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The City Of Las Vegas Might Ban Airbnbs

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Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

The City of Las Vegas is the only municipality in Southern Nevada that allows short-term rentals like Airbnbs.

A year ago, the city thought it had a plan to regulate them, but now, one city councilwoman wants to ban them outright.

City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian told KNPR's State of Nevada that under her proposal people who live in a home and rent out a room will still be allowed to operate.

Also, people who have gone through the process to get a license from the city will be grandfathered in and those who are currently in the middle of the process will be allowed to finish.

However, operators that don't have a license will not be allowed to operate and the city won't take any new license application. Tarkanian says the people in her ward do not want short-term rentals in their neighborhood.

"My job is to represent those people and I do," she said, "And they do not want short-term rentals."

Christopher Nulty is the head of public affairs for Airbnb. 

He says bans on short-term rentals do not work and it is better for the city to take an active role in creating solutions for problems that can arise in vacation rentals.

"We are really eager to work with the folks in Las Vegas to make this work," he said, "I just don't think that a ban like what is being purposed here really makes sense."

Support comes from

Nulty said the company has worked with cities around the world on rules that make it easier for municipalities to weed out bad actors. He said that is a better idea than banning short-term rentals completely.

He said in Chicago the company developed a hotline for neighbors to call if there is a problem with a rental. There is also a three strikes policy for people who violate rules. The company is also helping fund code enforcement on weekends and at night. 

Besides encouraging the city to find solutions rather than putting in a ban, Nulty said the city of Las Vegas has some of the most onerous regulations for short-term rentals that he has seen.

"If you want to have a short-term rental in Las Vegas right now, it is the same process as if you were to open up a gas station," Nulty said.

He said banning short-term rentals would put Las Vegas out of touch with cities around the country.

Julie Davies is a short-term rental operator and she teaches a course on short-term rental management at the College of Southern Nevada.

She agrees that banning the rentals won't really solve the problems that some of the bad actors have created.

"What it does is it shuts down the licensed operators the good people," she said, "And then the bad operators are the ones that move in and supply the demand.

Davies says the demand is not going away. She said people want to travel where they can rent a whole house or condo and stay together.

In her class, Davies teaches operators best practices and she believes that is a better way to address the situation than a ban.

Those practices include a good contract and house rules that are clearly communicated to guests, monitoring that doesn't invade privacy and a noise monitoring device that can alert an operator if there is a problem.

Tarkanian said there is a chance that the ban won't pass the council and if it doesn't she and two other members of the council have another proposal that changes some of the troublesome areas of the current regulations.

Guests

Lois Tarkanian, mayor pro tem, Las Vegas City Council; Julie Davies, short-term rental professional; Christopher Nulty, public affairs, Airbnb

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