City leaders propose new Airbnb ordinance

MADISON, Wis (WMTV) -- City leaders are cracking down on Airbnb operators in Madison by proposing an annual permit for tourist rooming houses.

Alders said the permit would bring new requirements and tighten enforcement.

An Airbnb host, Aaron Schultz, said the cost of the permit could create a financial strain.

Schultz has lived in his home for 20 years. He saw an opportunity to make some extra money so from time to time, guests pop in and take a load off right upstairs.

"Two Airbnb units: our studio apartment and a two bedroom apartment," he said.

He said being in the Airbnb business is not easy on the wallet.

"We already pay a fee we started off paying $500 to the City Clerks Office then Dane County came out and inspected us so we paid $160 annually," he said.

Soon he may have to add another fee to his list.

City alders are proposing several new regulations including requiring Airbnb hosts to apply to the city zoning administrator with floor plans and proof of primary residence.

Alder Arvina Martin said one of the goals is to make the home-sharing experience safer for the neighborhood, but Schultz said the cost of the permit could break the bank.

"Our concern really is the financial aspect of it. Everything out that they asked for as far as the layout and footprint we're already doing. We're in compliance,” he said.

He explained the concept of the ordinance is important but he has mixed feelings about the proposed rule.

"I really do believe there should be accountability and there should be regulations," Schultz said.

He said some Airbnb operators do not follow the rules, and one bad apple can spoil the bunch.

"I understand people think this is easy cash I need money rent out a bedroom and you're done with it. Well those people don't understand what Airbnb is," he said.

Alder Martin said there is no set amount right now, but expects the fee to be about $100 a year. A public comment period will follow in the coming months.