Citizen's View: Short-term rentals have a positive impact on Lake Oswego
We bought our house in First Addition 10 years ago. I was 25, my husband (a Lake Oswego native) was 30, and it was a hefty price for us at the time. Having an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) made it work for us financially. We actually lived in the ADU at first and rented out the house to a young family who has since bought their own home just down the street. And we were finally able to move into the "big house" ourselves!
For us, the ADU offers flexibility.
Last May, we had a baby boy and I'm now back at work. I'm working reduced hours so I have less income, but it's worth it to be able to spend more time with our now-toddler. My husband is also going through a career shift, buying a business here in Lake Oswego.
Right now, the rental money we make from the ADU gives us security. And being able to rent for less than 30 days is important.
My family lives on the East Coast, and when they come to visit, they stay in the ADU. As they transition into retirement, I hope they come more and more. But if we had the apartment rented out long-term, that wouldn't be possible — and it could be cost-prohibitive for them to stay in a hotel.
Many of our tenants are here for 30+ days, which we love. Our average length of stay for 2017 is 16 nights. Our current guest has stayed with us three times for almost 30 days each time! But if we ONLY allowed 30-day stays, then we could end up with big gaps in between two reservations, which would be a significant hit to our monthly income.
Our guests are wonderful! Most are 50+ years old. They're here because they're remodeling their home, visiting family, dropping off kids at Lewis & Clark, just moved here and are looking for a house to buy, or are simply visiting the area. We had a family from Russia on a sightseeing trip and a couple from Japan, but mostly it has been grandmas.
In the 1.5 years we've been renting on Airbnb/VRBO, we've never had an issue. Guests are aware that in order to use the rental platform, they need good reviews, so they are extremely courteous, quiet and clean. We keep our ADU looking nice on the inside and out, because we, too, know how important our 5-star ratings and "Super Host" status are to our future income.
We're also helping the local economy. We've paid more than $1,000 this year in cleaning fees to a local small business, we have the linens cleaned at a local dry cleaner and we recommend local restaurants and shops to our guests. Hotels are great for a weekend, but many people need something for one to three weeks that feels more like home, with a kitchen and a couch. Why not let them stay here, spend money here and fall in love with our beautiful neighborhood and community?
We believe that short-term rentals have a net-positive impact on the community in Lake Oswego. And they're important to our family's bottom line. We would be very happy to pay a tax, work with others to give back to the community, etc.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my thoughts.
Morgan Paulson is a resident of Lake Oswego.