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Rental rules could affect AirVenture housing

  • Associated Press
  • May 20, 2014 - 10:50 AM

OSHKOSH, Wis. — The Winnebago County Health Department has sent letters to some residents who offer short-term apartment rentals through a popular website, warning them it's illegal to do so without a permit.

While the letters focus on Airbnb users, the issue could have implications for the hundreds of property owners who rent during the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture in the summer, according to Oshkosh Northwestern Media (http://oshko.sh/1klh2n6 ).

Airbnb is an online listing service that allows property owners to make their homes, spare rooms or apartments available to rent for short periods of time. Hotel operators, mostly in major cities, have complained about the lack of oversight and that those who list properties do not pay hotel room taxes.

The letters focused on properties that involve the owners leaving the premises, which makes them transient properties, said health department Director Doug Gieryn. A bed and breakfast, on the other hand, has owners on the premises.

In Wisconsin, it is illegal for someone to operate a bed and breakfast, hotel, motel or lodging house for more than 10 days each year without a permit.

Gieryn said he's requested more guidance from state officials to see if Wisconsin law would impact those who rent their homes during AirVenture.

There are more than 300 Oshkosh properties listed through the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau website for AirVenture rentals, not counting properties in Omro, Berlin and other surrounding communities. Complicating the matter further is that the bureau has no idea exactly how many people participate or for how many days vendors or visitors stay.

"If it's something we need to address, how do we address it because this happens for 40 years? And not every renter goes through the CVB," Executive Director Wendy Hielsberg said.

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said a stay of 10 days or more is at the far end of the range most vendors might stay in Oshkosh. He said the organization doesn't expect it to affect most convention-goers' arrangements.

© 2014 Star Tribune