The city of Rexburg is discussing the issue of Airbnb and similar companies as to whether or not the service will be permitted in Rexburg neighborhoods.
Airbnb is an online community website to book unique homestays all over the world, according to airbnb.com.
Chris Mann, a Rexburg councilman, said the standing zoning law states that businesses such as Airbnb are not legal in residential zones.
“Laura and her husband were extremely welcoming and helpful,” Rick said in a review of a home in Rexburg on airbnb.com. “We dropped our daughter off at BYU-Idaho and needed help knowing how much time would be needed to do activities in the area, and their recommendations were spot-on. Their home is nicely maintained and feels very comfortable. It was a great alternative to a hotel, and I would recommend their home to others.”
There are cons for hosts and guests who use Airbnb, according to investopedia.com.
“Perhaps the biggest risk for hosts is that their property will get damaged,” according to the investopedia webpage. “While most transactions occur without incident, there are stories of entire houses being trashed by dozens of party-goers.”
There are four hotel establishments in Rexburg that are available for students and their families to stay when they are moving in or out. These include AmericInn Lodge and Suites, Quality Inn, SpringHill Suites and Super 8.
These hotels are not able to house every student along with family members, which leaves students having to stay in the neighboring towns such as Rigby, St. Anthony and Idaho Falls.
Thirty-day and under rentals are an alternative to staying in another town and traveling an excess of up to 40 minutes.
Jeanne Grimmett, a Rexburg resident, said in a recent city council meeting, there is a demand for Airbnb during the beginning and end of each semester.
“(I am) aware of city residents that have hosted people in their homes due to a shortage of accommodations,” Grimmett said. “There is a demand for Airbnb in Rexburg from the people dropping off their students at BYU-Idaho and cannot afford a $200 hotel reservation fee.”
Cost could be an issue as parents are preparing to drop their kids off at college, especially when extra things need to be purchased once their kids move into dorms or apartments.
“Enforcement has been lax; we have not policed it,” said Stephen Zollinger, the city’s attorney. “If a complaint comes in, compliance officer Natalie Powell contacts the owner and informs them of the laws. To date, the phone calls that have been made have resulted in 100 percent of them discontinuing their businesses because they were all in non-compliance areas.”
Zollinger said they are dealing with the issue using a case-by-case method, causing the issue as a whole to go unresolved.
“This is a zoning issue; this is not Rexburg trying to shut something down,” Mann said. “The question before the City Council is whether or not the rule should be changed to allow this 30-day rental in our residential neighborhoods.”
Mann said arguments against Airbnb suggest that such a program is unsafe for children because parents do not know who will be staying in their neighborhoods on a given night.
Mann said the issue is still in discussion and will soon be decided by the City Council and zoning department.