In Richmond, Airbnb​ hosts made $3.8M this summer even though its illegal to operate short-term rentals there
By Davis Burroughs
September 20, 2019

Want to visit Richmond? You can find about 1,200 places to stay on Airbnb, but none of them are — technically — legal.

City code prohibits rentals in residential properties for fewer than 30 days, but that hasn’t stopped Richmonders from offering up their homes and apartments on the online booking platform to short-term renters. This summer, Airbnb hosts operating in Richmond raked in $3.8 million collectively, hosting an estimated 27,500 guests, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

State and local lawmakers have struggled to keep up after failing to legalize and regulate short term rentals in the runup to the 2015 UCI Road World Championship, an international bike race. Then, the Richmond City Council attempted to enact regulations that would permit the rentals in time for the race, which brought thousands of visitors to the city.

It failed. The General Assembly took up the issue the next year, but punted it to the next session due to opposition from the hotel industry.

In 2017, the General Assembly finally passed legislation to allow localities to write their own rules regarding short term rentals. But in Richmond and other localities throughout the state, nothing happened. So for now, AirBnb hosts will remain in business, albeit in the shadows.

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