New short-term rentals can't be within 500 feet of another STR under an ordinance the Bend City Council voted unanimously in favor of at its regular meeting on Oct. 5. In March City councilors directed staff to look at changes in the development code that could increase the availability of long-term rentals.
The last time the City put regulations on short-term rentals was 2015 when it added a 250-foot buffer zone. This time around the City is also adding a long-term rental option to its proof of use requirement, which gives STR owners the ability to lease a home as a long-term rental without losing its permit for up to three years. Previously STR code would terminate the permit to operate an STR if it was rented for less than a month per year.
The changes only apply to people renting a whole home and who obtained a permit before the last code amendments in 2015. People renting a room in a house they occupy are also exempt from the density buffer. Bend's Business License Program Manager Loralei Williams said the change will make the majority of Bend households ineligible to rent the entire property on a short-term basis.
The percentage of area where STRs are ineligible is expected to increase by 20%, from 34% to 54%. The remaining 46% of properties in the short-term rental rule area — which is all area zoned residential or mixed-riverfront use outside of the Old Mill district— could still apply for a permit.
The changes won't revoke current licenses if they're inside of the newly defined buffer, but any permit granted after April 2015 will terminate as soon as it's sold. Prospective buyers and owners often collaborate to renew STR permits if it's still eligible. The code also specified that only one STR dwelling can be approved on a property — meaning any ADUs or multi-unit properties can't rent more than one structure.
“The amount of those short-term rental rule area that is ineligible increases by 20%, from 34% to 54% and then it also means the area that remains eligible for full house permits decreases by 20%, so it was at 66%, it would drop down to 46% of that rule area.”—Lorelei Williams
AirDNA, a company that tracks active listings on STR platforms like AirDNA and VRBO, told the City that it had identified 1,082 unique addresses in Bend. That's less than the number of permits the City has granted.
"We do know that some people aren't actively utilizing their permits, some people just hold on to them, some of them utilize it for their family and friends only; they aren't necessarily advertising it," Williams said.
Williams also said an audit of illegal STRs is in the works, in which they'll cross reference AirDNA's data with City permits to spot illegal rentals. Currently the City relies on a complaint-based system to identify unpermitted STRs.