City of Portland files $2.5 million lawsuit against online renta - KPTV - FOX 12

City of Portland files $2.5 million lawsuit against online rental company

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The city of Portland has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against HomeAway.com, a company that advertises short-term rentals across the country, and ordered the company to cease and desist listing properties in Portland.

The city alleges HomeAway.com and its affiliate VRBO.com are in ongoing violation of multiple sections of city code pertaining to the rental of short-term homes, apartments and rooms.

Those violations, according to the city, include failure to collect and remit hotel/motel taxes, failure to register with the revenue division within 15 calendar days after commencing business and failure to demonstrate that basic health and safety inspections occurred at the rental locations.

"We will not stand by while short term rental websites flout basic consumer protection and tax laws," said Revenue Division Director Thomas Lannom said in a statement. "We offered to work with, and later repeatedly warned HomeAway.com about its obligations under Portland City Code. We now find ourselves in the position of needing to take more forceful action."

Matthew Curtis, director of government relations for HomeAway, released a statement to FOX 12 on Wednesday saying the company does not comment on pending litigation, but added the goal of HomeAway is to work collaboratively with lawmakers "to introduce fair regulation that balances the needs of the community with the rights of property owners, residents and travelers."

"HomeAway has repeatedly offered to assist the city of Portland, and other cities, in collecting taxes that have been properly assessed and is disappointed that the city has chosen not to engage us to find a solution," Curtis said in a statement.

The city has sent warnings and assessed fines totaling more than $1 million to eight other short-term rental websites, according to a release from the city on Wednesday, while warning more than 130 owners and operators of local properties.

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