Harrisburg looking how to handle Airbnbs

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Live like a local. It’s the unofficial slogan for Airbnb.

Ted Hanson is an Airbnb host in Harrisburg.

For over two years, he’s let people turn his Midtown home into a home of their own.

It’s a bed a breakfast rental, but Hanson says his is without the breakfast.

“Airbnb is a web based operation that has more hotel rooms than any hotel chain in the world,” said Hanson. “It’s in 180 countries and it’s in Harrisburg.”

Nearly 200 Airbnbs can be found in Harrisburg. It’s a growing and the city is taking notice.

“Right now city officials are in the process of reviewing this and researching to see what other areas have done and seeing what would work best for our city,” said Joyce Davis, city spokeswoman.

Hanson recently received a letter from the mayor’s office. In it, the city requests that Hanson obtain a special license to continue to do business.

Ted, who has a current landlord license, says he was renting his home for years before Airbnb. All that’s changed is how he receives his bookings.

“Why are you asking me to file for this business privilege license which would enable you to tax me?” asked Hanson. “Because according to the enabling legislation, you can’t tax me. It’s exempt.”

But the city hasn’t said anything about a new tax.

“You have to make sure that these Airbnbs are safe, they’re attractive,” said Davis. “That they’re good for city and good for the residents.”

The city will host a public meeting next Wednesday to discuss how to regulate Airbnbs in Harrisburg.

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