Washington City Hall

A pair of short-term rental properties in Washington will soon hit the market after the Washington City Council voted Monday to issue special permits allowing the Locust Street homes to operate as short-term rentals. 

William Eckelkamp Jr., the registered agent for Beekeepers Mill LLC, sought the special permit on behalf of Todd and Anne Marie Beck, who are listed in city documents as being the owners of 309 Locust St. and 317 Locust St. The special use permit, which requires annual inspections and application for a city business license, is required when a business opens outside of the downtown district, according to Washington Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci. In addition to the inspection and other requirements, the business is required to collect the city’s 5 percent hotel bed occupancy tax. 

In a report to the Washington City Council, the city’s Planning and Engineering Department staff said the proposed use of these homes as short-term rental properties “should not (be a) detriment to the neighborhood.” Maniaci said the city contacted adjacent property owners but received no feedback from neighbors. No one spoke against the permits being issued at the city council meeting or at a Washington Planning and Zoning Commission meeting held last week. 

Once operational, the two properties will increase the number of licensed short-term rentals in Washington to 28, according to Maniaci. Short-term rental property owners often market their homes on Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway and other sites. Property owners can use these online platforms to rent rooms or entire houses for a single night or multiple days, but minimum nights of stay are determined by the property owner or the platform, not by the city.

Maniaci said any home or rooms that are rented for fewer than 30 days at a time should be licensed through the city. 

“People are really starting to realize that short-term rentals are not a new phenomena,” Maniaci said. “Every year we seem to get a few more requests for permits.” 

Maniaci said on Monday that there has been “no movement” on a push to crack down on unlicensed short-term rentals operating in Washington. Earlier this year, the city was contacted by a software company that claimed there were up to 63 unlicensed short-term rental properties operating in Washington. 

Third-party vendors such as ProChamps, which reached out to the city, buy ZIP code-specific data from the nine major companies and then compare online bookings to the city’s list of licensed short-term rentals. 

“They scour all of this information, and they will actually do the legwork and contact the property owners for the city,” Maniaci said in March. In exchange for this service, ProChamps has said they would charge a $100 fee per property they find. Other companies would charge the city a monthly fee. 

Under current city ordinances, short-term rental owners pay $60 for their annual business license and $25 for the annual inspection.