City of Bloomington proposes permits, fines on short-term rentals like Airbnb

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The city of Bloomington has proposed regulations on short-term rentals like those hosted on the website Airbnb, which would require hosts to get permits and inspections.

"The City of Bloomington had been getting a lot of people calling to see if we actually regulated Airbnb (properties)," Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Doris Sims said.

Airbnb, VRBO, and other sites offer a way to rent your home, or a room in your home, to visitors. The idea has grown in popularity, as a cheaper alternative to hotels and resorts.

Bloomington's proposal, in the form of an ordinance that will go before the city council later this year, would come at a price.

Anyone who rents either a room or their home for less than 30 days would have to get a permit that lasts two years, as well as pass an inspection.

It comes at a cost, too. A permit would cost $100, with a $10 renewal fee every two years. The inspection, also required every two years, would cost $95 each time.

Anyone caught operating without a permit would be subject to a $2,500 fine, and another $5,000 if caught again within 12 months.

"We look at it as that it’s a way that someone can actually ... put that they’ve been permitted through the city, so it shows that they have a safe unit that someone can rent," Sims said.

People FOX59 talked to in Bloomington didn't all see it that way, though. Many thought the costs were too high and would discourage people from opening their homes to visitors.

"In my opinion, I really think it’s just a way for the government to make more money," resident Jennifer Tieman said.

"I think it’s a really nice thing for Bloomington to have, so to regulate I think it’ll turn people off from using it, which is kind of a bummer," resident Andy Calderone said.

Sims said the city wants to ensure that people are staying in good properties, in order to keep up Bloomington's reputation. She said the same regulations apply to those who rent out full-time.

"We just want to make sure that anyone coming within the Bloomington community has a pleasant experience coming here," Sims said.

The ordinance also requires many steps in order to get a permit, including notification of neighbors, registration as a retail merchant with the state, and registration for collection of the county's innkeeper's tax.

The city will hold a public forum, and Sims said they are open to changes in the ordinance. It will take place in City Hall on Tuesday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m.

To read the full ordinance, click the link here.