City Posts New Rules to Regulate Short and Long Term Rentals

An ordinance regulating short-term rentals in the City of Kirkland was adopted by the City Council at their October 17, 2017 meeting. The new Ordinance O-4607, defines short-term rentals as a rental lasting for less than thirty days as opposed to long-term rentals which are defined as 30 days or more. FAQs and information regarding the ordinance is now posted on the City website. 
 
The ordinance applies only to single family residences. Multifamily residences are currently governed by the rule of the individual complex.
 
Residents should be aware that the City requires business licenses for any transaction where value is exchanged and all short-term rentals require the owner to have a business license from the City of Kirkland.
 
The ordinance lays out six requirements for owners seeking a business license for operating a short-term rental in the City of Kirkland including:
 
1.    The property owner, or an authorized agent, must occupy the property as a primary residence at least 245 days per year.
2.    A property manager living within 15 miles of the residence must be identified for those days when neither the owner nor an authorized agent are occupying the property.
3.    The property owner must have a business license from the State of Washington.
4.    The property owner (or authorized agent) must complete and submit a business license application for the City of Kirkland, and pay licensing fees.
5.    As part of the application, a declaration must also be filled out and signed. If the applicant is not the owner, it must still be signed by the owner, as owners retain specified responsibilities in all events.
6.    Lodging taxes for short-term rentals must be paid to the State of Washington, and those payments are ultimately the responsibility of the property owner.
 
“We heard from a number of residents who felt their residential neighborhoods were being negatively impacted by “mini-hotels” next door,” said Mayor Amy Walen. “This legislation is intended to strike a balance between keeping the character of our single-family neighborhoods and providing ways for homeowners to use this new economic model to afford to live in Kirkland.”
 
Kirkland residents who first came to the Council in May expressed frustrations over disruptions in their neighborhoods caused by a continuous stream of guests renting rooms, partying late into the night and parking vehicles in undesignated spaces. The Council listened to their concerns and asked staff to help them find a way to institute regulations to ensure neighborhood quality was intact while still allowing residents who used short-term rentals as a means of income to operate freely. 
 
The solution was to ensure there is an owner, or registered agent, on the property to certify that disruptions were addressed and zoning codes were not violated.
 
“Operating a short-term rental business when no resident occupies the property is a commercial use of property, not a residential use,” said Councilmember Toby Nixon, Chair of the Tourism Development Committee. “One of the roles of government is to work on how conflicting property rights are resolved. Zoning is one of the ways we do that, and it is the law today.”
 
There’s no limit to the number of days that a single family residents (or room in a single family residents) can be the subject of a short-term rental agreement if the owner (or register agent) continuously occupies the residence as his or her primary residence year-round.
 
If an owner (or a registered agent) occupies the residence for at least 245 days per year as his or her primary residence, short-term rentals of up to 120 day are permitted. In this situation, whenever the owner (or authorized agent) is not occupying the residence, a property manager (located within 15 miles) must be identified and continuously available to the City and all renters.
 
Short-term rentals are not allowed in residences in Kirkland in situations where an owner (or authorized agent) does not occupy the residence as his or her primary residence at least 245 days per year.
 
A “registered agent” can be a long-term renter or someone else designated by an owner.
 
The property owners are required to pay the state lodging tax and they must require renters to exercise best efforts to avoid conflicts with neighbors.
 
Pre-existing short-term rentals are not grandfathered except to the extent necessary to avoid impairing existing rental contracts.
 
The new short-term rental regulations and frequently asked questions can be found on www.Kirklandwa.gov/short-termrentalsor you may call the City’s Business Licensing Department at 425 587-3140.

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