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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor opposes limiting number of short-term rental properties

“What must be done is regulate the matter at the state level so as not to have 78 different regulations applying to short-term rentals,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.

Says central gov’t should regulate sector

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that he opposes limiting the number of properties for short-term rental to deal with the affordable housing shortage and homelessness in Puerto Rico.

The governor said he does not favor limiting short-term rentals because it is private property, and the owners of those properties have the right to generate additional income. He revealed that his administration plans to build more than 10,000 housing units to address the crisis. Pierluisi urged the Legislature to rethink its position on an administration bill that seeks to raise price limits on affordable housing.

He said he supports the regulation of short-term rentals, by the central government.

“There, what must be done is regulate the matter at the state level so as not to have 78 different regulations applying to short-term rentals,” Pierluisi said.

Carlos Rivera Justiniano, the governor’s assistant secretary for legislation and regulation, is discussing with Popular Democratic Party Rep. José Rivera Madera amendments proposed by La Fortaleza to legislation regulating short-term rentals.

In short, the governor said, there should be a state-level registry managed by the Tourism Company to ensure that the properties pay the corresponding room tax, municipal taxes and property taxes.

In addition, they must comply with municipal public order codes and regulations regarding waste and noise management.

The bill would limit the number of properties dedicated to short-term rentals in a residential area, but Pierluisi said he opposes restricting the use of private property.

“The vast majority of the properties rented in Puerto Rico, easily 90%, are owned by people from Puerto Rico who have every right to rent their properties and have an additional income,” the governor said.

While short-term rentals are a popular investment in Puerto Rico, the STAR reported that a few short-term rental firms are controlling the sector, including one firm that belongs to the governor’s son.

Pierluisi acknowledged that one of his sons manages some 200 Airbnb properties, but said it is a minuscule sample within a total of 18,000 properties islandwide.

The surge in short-term rentals has resulted in increasing rental and property prices displacing the middle class and the poor.

Currently, San Juan is the municipality with the most short-term rentals at 3,800, according to data obtained by Norberto Quiñones Vilches, a data analyst working in the mainland U.S. Most of those properties are in coastal areas or tourism areas such as Old San Juan. Carolina has 1,842 short-term rentals, most of which are in Isla Verde. Naguabo, another coastal town, has 74 properties, but Quiñones Vilches said it is growing. Humacao, meanwhile, has 400 units, Fajardo 700 units, Luquillo 800 and Río Grande 1,000.

Airbnb, a platform for short-term rentals, has said short-term accommodations have contributed to the island’s economic development. Airbnb said that according to a study by Oxford Economics, spending by visitors who travel through the platform, including accommodation and expenses in various sectors such as restaurants, transportation, and entertainment, among others, will exceed $8 billion in 2025.

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