A travel website that offers short-term rental bookings is listing properties in St. Paul without authorization by the city.
The TripAdvisor website shows a variety of short-term rental listings in St. Paul, from downtown apartments to houses in residential neighborhoods, though it does not have a license to operate as a short-term rental operation in the city.
St. Paul officials said they were not aware of TripAdvisor’s operations in the city before a request from the Star Tribune on Friday.
Suzanne Donovan, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Safety and Inspections, said the department “will be investigating TripAdvisor’s operation in St. Paul” to determine if a violation occurred.
TripAdvisor did not respond to requests for comment.
In advance of the 2018 Super Bowl and the crush of visitors that came with it, local governments across the metro started requiring that people who rent out their homes through online platforms such as Airbnb obtain city licenses. St. Paul and Minneapolis also require licenses for these online property brokerages themselves.
In St. Paul, all these companies are required to pay a $10,000 licensing fee. In Minneapolis the annual licensing fee is $630 for companies with fewer than 150 active listings and $5,000 for those with more. Minneapolis licenses a variety of short-term rental platforms but does not classify TripAdvisor as one, according to spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.
St. Paul licenses only Airbnb and HomeAway/VRBO.
St. Paul City Council Member Chris Tolbert said the council decided to require licenses for both hosts and platforms in order to ensure compliance with city rules.
“More than anything, the license is there for when regulation is necessary,” he said.
In a case where a platform is not properly licensed, Tolbert said, the department would work with the company to bring it into compliance. If that doesn’t work, he said, the company could face a criminal citation.
St. Paul’s inspection department lists 272 licensed short-term rental hosts in the city, according to Donovan. The department has received and resolved complaints about specific short-term rental properties, she said, but has not received complaints about these online companies.