The number of Airbnb visitors and listings in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor has grown steadily over the past three years. ISLANDER GRAPHIC BY KATE COUGH

Airbnb hosts draw violations



BAR HARBOR — Two property owners who rent part or all of their properties here on Airbnb.com received notices of violation from the town’s code enforcement officer recently.

Bar Harbor implemented ordinances in 2006 requiring registration for short-term rentals. The current ordinance requires that all vacation rentals – units rented for fewer than 30 days – be registered and inspected.

The application fee to register a vacation rental with the town is $50. The room or unit is inspected upon registration, but no regular renewals or inspections are required.

According to Airbnb data from 2017, about 150 Airbnb rentals are active in Bar Harbor.

Code Enforcement Officer Angie Chamberlain said there are more than 400 registered vacation rentals in Bar Harbor. Many are weekly rentals operated as independent businesses, through real estate companies, or listed with other firms such as HomeAway or Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO).

The median annual gross income for Airbnb operators in Bar Harbor is about $16,000, according to the company. Bar Harbor is the highest earner in the state, followed by Ellsworth and Portland who take in about $10,000.

If a code violation is not resolved after a formal warning is sent by town officials, it’s forwarded to the town council.

The council may seek a civil consent agreement or, if no agreement is reached, the town may decide to pursue legal action.

One such case is on the council’s agenda for their July 17 meeting. It involves a repeat offender who has offered an unpermitted vacation rental since 2014, Chamberlain said.

The other property found to be in violation was identified when Chamberlain was researching the rental on Airbnb’s website. She said she doesn’t usually spend time looking for properties online in violation of code.

A typical host in Maine makes $6,900 for a total of 24 night rentals a year, according to a June 5 press release from Airbnb.

Airbnb said in the same release that it remitted $5.3 million in taxes on behalf of its Maine hosts last year.

Airbnb data shows the number of guests and active hosts in Bar Harbor has ballooned since 2015. In 2015, 60 hosts offered accommodations to 2,600 guests. That number jumped to 110 hosts and 7,100 inbound guests in 2016. Last year, 150 hosts saw 12,800 guests.

In total, properties in Bar Harbor grossed a total of $4.3 million last year, according Airdna, a private company that analyzes data on Airbnb.

Airdna said the highest-grossing property in Bar Harbor was a five-bedroom home downtown that rents for $744 a night and brought in over $90,817 in 2017. Each of the top-10 properties in Bar Harbor took in over $45,000 in revenue.

Kate Cough contributed to this report.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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