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Municipality of San Juan proposes ordinance to track short-term rentals

The San Juan municipal government could shore up some $1.6 million in license fees from 3,792 short-term rental operators currently registered on Airbnb, Venmo and other platforms through a proposed ordinance that would regulate the sector, Mayor Miguel Romero said during a news conference.

The “Regulations to establish the short-term rental registry in the Municipality of San Juan,” seeks to “create a balance between this economic activity and the interests of the communities where they are located,” the municipal official said.

According to AirDNA, the majority, or about 3,225 are properties that are fully rented out, while the rest are single rooms inside homes listed for short-term stays. Of that total, 83% at listed on Airbnb, 4% are listed on Verbo, and 13% are listed on both platforms.

“On average, the daily rate fluctuates or is around $150 and over the past 12 months, the median income from these rentals was approximately $2,434 per month,” Romero said, noting that the average annual revenue for these short-term term operators is $29,208.

The proposed ordinance calls for charging an annual $100 fee for the license and registration for someone who has a room to rent in their home. The license and registration an operator of entire house or apartment for short-term rental would be $500 for the full year.

Based on those numbers, the mayor calculated that the town would shore up about $1.6 million in new revenue a year.

“It’s necessary to emphasize that through this proposal we aren’t seeking to propose a tax or excise tax on what the people who make these rentals generate. On the contrary, we want to establish a license and a registry that allows us to ensure that laws followed with and that these rentals, for example, don’t conflict with the regulations of associations of residents of urbanizations or condominiums,” Romero said.

The revenue generated from the proposed license fees would be used to pay for cleaning jobs, solid waste collection, and security where short-term rental properties are located.

He defended the town’s proposed license fees, saying they are significantly lower than other municipalities, such as Dorado, which charges $1,000 for up to two residences or mobile units, such as campers; $2,000 up to four residences or mobile units; and $3,000 for five or more residences. He also predicted that the future fees will not hinder the sector’s growth.

The proposed ordinance will establish a Short-Term Rental Registry to have a more detailed tool to identify areas where short-term rentals are located. According to AirDNA’s map, the bulk of the short-term rental properties are in San Juan’s Old San Juan, Hato Rey and Santurce areas.

To create the registry, a license will be issued that enables the Municipality of San Juan to ensure that short-term rentals comply with laws and ordinances, that the location of short-term rentals does not conflict with the regulations of associations of residents of urbanizations or condominiums, he said.

The town will also monitor compliance with the regulations on the use of the property in accordance with the zoning and location. In addition to promoting the quality of life, peace, security, health, the right to affordable housing, community character and general well-being of the citizens of San Juan, he said.

The ordinance project establishes a period of 180 days to establish all the municipal administrative structure needed to implement the Regulation. After that period, short-term rental owners will have an additional 180 days to comply with the license and registration requirement. During this process, the proposed measure provides that no moratorium will be halted or placed on short-term rentals in San Juan.

Puerto Rico’s Airbnb hosts use money to keep homes
A survey of 82,287 Airbnb hosts with bookings between June 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021, confirmed that more than half of hosts in Puerto Rico said the money they’ve earned through the platform has helped them stay in their home.

Airbnb also revealed that 62% of hosts in Puerto Rico said they’ve used the extra money to pay for food and other items that have become more expensive, while one in 10 (15%) said it has helped them avoid eviction or foreclosure.

In Puerto Rico, people between 40 and 49 years old are those who have been encouraged to share their space on Airbnb with a growth in presence of nearly 65%, the platform revealed.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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