An Airbnb rental house in Willard Beach in South Portland. Credit: Nora Flaherty / Maine Public

A number of Maine towns and cities are seeking to regulate short-term rentals ahead of what is anticipated to be a busy summer tourist season.

Proponents of rental regulations have said that short-term rentals can take business away from hotels and motels and can drive up housing costs, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Last week, Freeport became the latest Maine city to pass rental regulations that would impose occupancy restrictions and fees for property owners, according to the Portland newspaper.

State regulations, such as requiring short-term rental providers to be licensed by the state, have been considered before but not passed. Now, the Legislature is considering two new bills targeting short-term rental regulations.

The push comes as Airbnb ranked Maine as a top destination for summer travelers and searches for Maine rentals through the platform have skyrocketed.

LD 1337, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Kessler, D-South Portland, would require short-term rental fees be used to support affordable housing. It would target homes that are not occupied by a permanent resident for at least 180 days a year, and include exemptions for low- or middle-income homeowners and camp owners.

A number of municipalities already have regulations that require property owners to pay fees for short-term rentals, as well as requiring rental spaces to be registered with town officials.

Cape Elizabeth implemented a permit registration system in April that seeks to prevent out-of-state homeowners from renting properties where they do not reside. People who want to rent property have to declare the rental as their main residence before they can obtain a permit, according to the Press Herald.

LD 1365, sponsored by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, who opposes regulations and restrictions on short-term rentals, seeks to “prohibit municipalities from enacting or enforcing ordinances, rules or orders that prohibit short-term accommodation rentals.”

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is a journalism and anthropology student at the University of Maine, and will graduate in May. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine...