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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Simone Rede

Promoting open and accountable government

Effect of short-term rentals on housing crisis unknown

 Despite concerns about the effect of short-term rentals on housing availability and affordability, the City of Portland does not collect data needed to regulate these rentals and monitor the housing market.

Since the City began regulating short-term rentals in 2014, the number has more than doubled. The intent of regulations was that homes should be used primarily for residential rather than commercial purposes, but the City’s current approach cannot assure this. Most hosts do not obtain the required permits: only an estimated 22 percent of properties are permitted, and the City rarely enforces its regulations.

City bureaus’ ability to enforce the regulations is limited by the lack of data about short-term rental activity, including listings and their hosts, and how often and for how long listings are rented. Of approximately 15 booking agents active in Portland, none regularly provide data to the City. The Auditor’s Office used information gathered by a third party to provide an overview of Portland’s short-term rental market. Visual representations of this data can be found on the City Auditor’s website.

To effectively regulate the short-term rental market, the audit recommends the Bureau of Development Services and Revenue Division obtain data on hosts, listings, and occupancy from booking agents or from other publicly available sources. The Housing Bureau should use this data to monitor the effect of short-term rentals on the housing market.

Responses to the audit from Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Eudaly, Bureau of Development Services, Housing Bureau and the Office of Management and Finance are included in the report. 

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