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Selkirk Mountain Real Estate

The Short Term Rental Debacle

Airbnb has partnered with SPLC to deny accommodations to some christian conservative individuals

The Short Term Rental Debacle

Lobbyists, Legislators and Losers:
The Short Term Rental Debacle

by Lorri Erickson

The Short Term Rental industry became unregulated in Idaho in 2018 when a plethora of lobbyists sold our legislators on the idea that you could do anything you want with your private property. This included renting out a room or your investment home to visitors who wanted to stay for under 30 days. This is a short term rental. But wait – mom and pop businesses were already able to that without local or state interference. What changed all that?

Idaho House Bill 216 changed all that and it turned into Idaho Statute 63-1802, 63-1803, 63-1804. The language in the bill is so vague that it has turned Idaho into the playground for the rich investors that use short term rentals to change the urban and rural neighborhoods. The only benefit for the state is that owners are now required to charge taxes. However, a recent inquiry to the Idaho Commerce Department advises that they are unable to provide data on the taxes from the new short term rental industry.

Short Term Rentals is a new global industry bringing investors to the resort towns in Idaho. In Kootenai County alone, there are at least 8 global and local corporations that utilize this new revenue resource. This new industry has removed long term rentals and family homes from the market because they are more cost effective for the investor.

Here’s is a factual story on this conversion:  A family from the midwest moved to North Idaho and purchased a large parcel but needed a temporary 6 months – 1 year place to stay with their children and their farm stock.

They rented a farm house that came with wonderful fields and a barn. After the 6 month lease expired they needed more time and wanted to renew their contract. The owners tripled, yes tripled the cost to use the fields alone and almost doubled the house rental. They had to move because most of their funds were invested in the new property. After they left, it was turned into a short term rental. This is how long term rentals are converted.

Who were the lobbyists behind this legislation? Pam Eaton along with former legislator Jim Clark spearheaded it. Pam Eaton is president of the Idaho Lodging and Restaurant Association. Her husband John is Vice President of the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry (IACI) and formerly with the Idaho Association of Realtors. But there were more involved. Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Steven Greenhut, of the R Street Institute, a Washington DC based think tank. Steve Greenhut posits in the Idaho Business Review that Idaho vacation-rental law is a model for the nation.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation in the 2022 Legislative session would like to expand the definition of Short Term Rentals under House Bill 471. According to their website it says: “House bill 471 would add to the definition of a short term rental to include a hotel, motel, campground, room, place for lodging or accommodations, or any other place to sleep’. This would add accommodations to the definition to include RV campsites and couches. In doing so, it appears that would free such accommodations from local regulation and taxes assessed under the short term rental statute.” Does this sound like a homeless environment to you?

This legislation MUST be stopped now. Even conservative lobby groups could trample on the rights of the taxpayers and homeowners.

The largest and most popular short term rental business is Vacation Rent by Owner (VRBO) and Airbnb. In Kootenai County alone, they boast over 1200 rental properties available. These are just two of the largest short term rental businesses in the county. There are over 6 more local rental agencies and do it yourself rental websites available to investors.

Why is this a concern for Idahoans? There is much discussion about housing shortages and this contributes to it by outside investors that are not invested in the neighborhoods. The Sheriff reports that 30% of all of the arrests are due to out of state visitors. This drains county resources and increases local tax liabilities.

Yes, there was a shooting in a CDA Short Term Rental recently that brought out the SWAT team. Rural properties have had issues with renters using it as a shooting range and drones flying over neighborhoods. Additional complaints are weddings and other events, fire danger with open pits, loud parties with a complete disregard for the neighbors.

More recently, Airbnb has partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that denies accommodations to some Christian conservative individuals. Airbnb banned Michelle Malkin a political commentator from booking reservations on their platform. The SPLC has created a list of christian and non christian organizations they perceive as hate groups. Airbnb’s policy “prohibit people who are members of or actively associate with known hate groups”.

This is a violation of our 1st Amendment. Can you see a pattern here? Groups like the SPLC have a history of maligning Christians and organizations that don’t share their philosophy. 

Who are the losers in this legislation? You are. There are 20 Idaho cities that have been struggling with these issues since it’s inception and they are hiring a lobbyist to fight for their concerns. The taxpayer is paying for the lobbyist to fight the lobbyist and legislators that have opened Idaho to this new industry. Let me repeat that – the taxpayers are paying for lobbyists to fight the lobbyists that have ruined our state. I can’t make this stuff up. What about the “mom and pop” business that would rent out rooms or auxiliary homes on a short term basis?

Well, before this legislation they could do that without government strings. Now, they may pay a fee to register the home based business and pay taxes to the state for its use. The local taxpayers also provide city and county services for this transient marketplace. Most of all the rural neighborhoods have turned into a playground for those that have a credit card and have no regard for the neighbors.

What can you do? Be educated about this new industry. Contact your legislator and obtain their reasons for its support. Work locally within your community to establish guidelines. If you think you could do anything you want with your property than you are deceived. Just try not paying your taxes for a year and see what happens.

HB 216
ID Statute 63-1802, 63-1803, 63-1804
ID Statute 67-6539 Land use


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