Our View: Short-term rentals have place in market

Short-term rentals through Airbnb and other online sources have become growing options in Rochester and Southeast Minnesota.

It's a discussion that occasionally pops up during city meetings, but has so far not gained any traction.

What do we do about Airbnb?

When it comes to seeking regulations for emerging short-term rentals — those falling outside the parameters of rental housing and standard hospitality lodging — the answer should be to wait. At this point, those entrepreneurs who have posted their private property on or other websites haven't demonstrated a need for added regulation.

While some businesses competing for the local lodging dollar have raised concerns, neighbors and visitors seem to be quiet on the issue. That indicates there is no real reason to implement a policy.

Tentative talk about doing it anyway often brings discussion of the city policy that effectively blocks Uber and other ride-share services. It also raises the specter of the prolonged debate regarding food trucks in downtown Rochester.


Short-term rentals, however, are different. They don't exist in the public space. They are private property owners using private space to provide a justified service. The bar should be higher for the creation of public policy.

At this point, the benefits of allowing property owners to open their doors to visitors seems to outweigh any potential negative impacts. It diversifies options for those coming to Rochester for medical services or those merely passing through as they visit family or friends. It can mean a less expensive nightly stay so visitors have more dollars to spend elsewhere in the community, or it can provide a more homelike environment during a time away from home.

The concerns that they aren't regulated fall a tad short. The fact is anyone renting a space in a person's home or apartment will have different expectations. It's a case of buyer beware, and most buyers who are savvy enough to use the sites needed to find short-term rentals should be enlightened enough to know what to look for and what to expect.

Generally, it's a service that does a good job of policing itself. As with any business, complaints will pop up and anomalies will be found, but rating systems generally help users share good and bad experiences

As Rochester continues to grow into the Destination Medical Center footprint it has mapped out, providing options for visitors will be a key to success. The DMC Economic Development Agency and Rochester Area Convention and Visitor Bureau have already ensured those looking for top-notch hospitality will find what they need through the Experience Accreditation program, and the state has helped ensure lodgers wanting certified medical-stay accommodations will find temporary homes. Airbnb and similar services can meet the needs of others, who may not be able to afford top-notch service or need specialty lodging.

Unless a problem arises in neighborhoods or for visitors, the option should be allowed to gain traction and continue unimpeded.

That will be a solid step in maintaining the city's desire to be welcoming to all.

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