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Woodbridge Backs Off on Ordinance Targeting Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb and Other Websites Make it Easy For People to Rent Rooms, But Proposed Law Would Have Banned Any Rentals Shorter Than 30 Days
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WOODBRIDGE, NJ—The state's sixth-largest municipality nearly passed a measure that banned residential rentals less than 30 days in an apparent attempt to halt private citizens from renting out rooms using websites like Airbnb.

The Woodbridge Township Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance on "first reading," scheduling the final reading and public hearing on the proposal for August 9.

But after a journalist reached out to the Township and to Airbnb, the ordinance was pulled from the Council's agenda 

"The proposed Ordinance will be pulled from tonight’s agenda," confirmed Woodbridge Township spokesperson John Hagerty.  "We want to further explore how to address the issue; therefore the proposed Ordinance will be held. I will advise if/when it gets back on the agenda.

Airbnb, short for "Air Bed n Breakfast," was founded in 2008 and allows people to make arrangements to rent out space in their private homes.

It currently boasts more than 1.5 million listings across the world, and though it has a number of competitors, it is by far the most popular online marketplace of its kind.

But the law that would have rendered most of those rentals illegal was short and to the point.

"No person, agency, corporation, partnership, firm, company, owner, real estate agent, broker or any other individual... shall hereafter rent, lease or sublet any residential unit for a period of less than thirty consecutive days," read the proposed law.

Hagerty said that the proposal "looks to tighten regulations related to rental properties in single-family residential zones."

Airbnb pushed back, citing Jersey City and Newark, two cities that--instead of attempting to ban the new trend--adopted laws requiring Airbnb customers pay an occupancy tax simillar to local hotel taxes.

"We have seen a number of cities and towns in northern New Jersey adopt sensible regulations that allow their residents to share their homes to earn extra money," said Peter Schottenfels, an Airbnb spokesperson.

"We hope that officials in Woodbridge spend some time listening to their neighboring towns about how home sharing can bring in visitors and stimulate the local economy."

In the sprawling township of 102,105 residents, there are just ten places currently listed as available for rental during an upcoming weekend.  They range in price from $45 to $150 per night.

Homestay.com, an Airbnb competitor, boasts one listing in the Fords section of Woodbridge for $75 per night.

Hagerty said he "would advise if/when it gets back on the [Council] agenda."