Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat, speak to a crowd outside at the steps of the Alaska State Capitol in January. Gray introduced a bill Monday that would make short-term rental registration a requirement and limit operators to just one unit per person in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/ Juneau Empire File)

Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat, speak to a crowd outside at the steps of the Alaska State Capitol in January. Gray introduced a bill Monday that would make short-term rental registration a requirement and limit operators to just one unit per person in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/ Juneau Empire File)

Lawmaker introduces bill to require short-term rental registry, limits in Alaska

The bill would limit units to one per person beginning January 2025.

A bill that would make short-term rental registration a requirement and limit operators to just one unit per person in Alaska was introduced in the Alaska House of Representatives on Monday with just a few short weeks remaining in the session.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat, told the Empire Wednesday he believes the bill will have a direct impact on increasing the supply of housing in Alaska and slowing down the rate of short-term rental growth.

“We don’t have enough available affordable housing here in Alaska,” he told the Empire. “I ran on affordable housing and it is my priority as a legislator to do what I can to incentivize more affordable housing in the state.”

The bill seeks to make all short-term rental operators register their units with the state of Alaska, beginning in January 2025. There would be a fee to register, according to the bill, but the amount is not outlined at this time. According to Gray, he wants the registration to be cost-neutral.

The bill also seeks to limit the number of short-term rentals to just one unit per person. Gray said the proposed limit has already faced pushback.

Gray said it should be noted that if an operator owns more than one unit prior to the bill going into effect, the person will still be able to operate those additional units. Currently, in Alaska, there is no limit on the number of short-term rentals a single person can operate.

“If you own four at the time of the bill, you keep them, but going forward, you can only register one,” he said. “I know people who own short-term rentals are going to be upset with me, but we have to face the fact that people are unable to buy homes and that apartments are going up at rates that are unsustainable.”

When asked if he was worried about operators rushing to buy additional units before the bill goes into effect, he said he wasn’t.

“The average price of homes in Alaska — in Juneau — is the reason I’m not worried about someone going out to buy a bunch,” he said. “They can’t afford it — because the price of homes is already too high.”

According to city data in Juneau, the median assessed value for a home in 2020 was around $429,000. In 2022, the median was around $527,000 — that equates to a 23% increase in just two years.

Gray said he introduced the bill now with the forethought that it will be passed in a future session rather than in the remaining weeks of this one. He said by introducing it now, it will give him more time throughout the summer and fall to speak with more experts and legislators before he “hits the ground running” in an upcoming session.

“If we want more available housing now, we simply have to limit the number of short-term rentals,” he said. “I think we have to do something, I think that it is absolutely imperative that we do something.”

Rep. Sara Hannan, a Juneau Democrat, told the Empire she is still reviewing the bill and did not have a comment at this time.

The impact of short-term rentals on the availability of affordable housing has been a topic of discussion at the local level, too.

In a recent study commissioned by the City and Borough of Juneau, data indicated that on one given day in mid-February, there were an estimated 577 active and intermittent listings of short-term rentals across Juneau.

[City considers short-term rental registration requirement]

Following the data being shared with the Assembly in early March, members OK’d the city to begin drafting an ordinance that would effectively make it a requirement to register short-term rentals with the city.

Assembly member Carole Triem told the Empire Wednesday that she liked the overall idea of Gray’s bill, but said she thinks when it comes to limitations, it should be up to each municipality, not the state to decide.

“I mean I would prefer that we have the ability to choose a limit, and the more control we could have versus the state dictating what we do would be better,” she said.

Triem said the idea to pass some type of short-term rental registration requirement is a priority for the Assembly and expects movement toward that turning into reality to happen in the coming months.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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