(Jan. 11, 2019) In light of Airbnb’s recent report indicating lodging hosts in Maryland earned about $57 million during 2018, including roughly $1.5 million in Worcester County, the resort’s Tourism Commission revived the discussion of short-term rentals at its meeting last Thursday.
In Worcester alone, Airbnb disclosed approximately 10,800 guests paid around $1.5 million to private lodging hosts during 2018.
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, said the earnings report quantifies the economic impact of online short-term rental sites at the resort.
“This proves how much money Airbnb is generating in our area,” she said.
While her organization continues to pursue level playing field conditions for traditional and individual lodging proprietors, Jones said questions abound regarding proper remittance of applicable taxes.
Rental property owners are required to charge a 4.5 percent room tax, payable to Worcester County, and a 6 percent sales tax, payable to the State of Maryland.
Property owners renting housing units in Ocean City, through online sites or other means, are required to obtain a license and noise permit. Rental properties also are subject to inspections for occupancy rates, as well as fire and safety standards.
Owners of single-family residences or condominiums who rent their property are required to obtain an annual rental license for $116 and a noise ordinance permit for $25. The cost for rental licenses in R-1 districts is $166.
Statewide in 2018, Airbnb reported more than 6,500 hosts earned more than $57 million in supplemental income from more than 383,000 guests.
This represents an increase from 2017 when Airbnb reported Maryland hosts netted about $42.4 million, which was significantly more than the approximately $25.3 million earned statewide in 2016.
Jones said Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Amy Rohrer will revive previous legislative undertakings to draft a regulatory bill granting local municipalities and cities the ability to enforce online short-term rental regulations during the Maryland General Assembly 2019 session.
In Ocean City, unlicensed rentals are subject to an initial fine of $500, which doubles if the property is not in compliance within 15 days. If the property remains unlicensed after 30 days, a $1,000 per day fine is assessed.
To avoid overcrowding rentals and maintaining safety standards, minimum floor area requirements are established for bedrooms, dining and living areas.
These include minimum bedroom sizes of 70 square feet, to include 40 square feet per person, as well as at least 120 square feet of living space. Rental properties with three to five tenants require at least 200 square feet of combined living /dining space, which increases to 250 square feet for six or more individuals.
The Property Review and Enforcement Strategies for Safe-housing committee, or P.R.E.S.S., coordinates housing regulation enforcement between numerous city departments, including police, building, zoning, fire marshal and rental licensing. Citizens with concerns or complaints are asked to call the Office of Planning and Community Development at 410-289-8855.