The City of Las Vegas is the only municipality in Southern Nevada that allows short-term rentals like Airbnbs.
Now they’ve tightened restrictions even further.
An ordinance passed last week will limit how homes can be rented out short-term.
It requires the homeowners to be on property overnight while their homes are being rented. In other words, new short-term rentals will not include entire homes, just rooms in a house where the owner is staying overnight.
City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said the council took suggestions to tweak the ordinance and allow homeowners who want to make a little money on the side to still rent out rooms.
However, the ordinance does ban homes with more than three bedrooms from being rented at all, and keeps the rule that rentals must be 660 feet apart.
It also allows short-term rentals that already had a license and special-use permit from the city to be grandfathered in.
Tarkanian said homeowners who violate the new ordinance will be fined and after a second violation will be stopped from renting entirely. She also said the city will monitor for violators the same way it does parking or yard maintenance violations — neighbors will have to call in to report problems.
Needless to say, operators of short-term rentals and the websites where the rentals are listed are not happy about the city's decision.
Philip Minardi, director of policy communication for Expedia and Home Away, said they tried to work with the city to craft a compromise that would allow reasonable regulation of short-term rentals but protect neighborhoods from irresponsible homeowners.
He said other cities around the country have found ways to accommodate both.
"When we approached the city, we said, 'Hey, this is not an us versus you, this is not one side versus the other' — we need to find a solution that is going to work for everybody and one that is going to stand the test of time," he said.
Minardi said the solution they proposed is called the Whole Home, Whole Community idea. It addresses problems with a whole host of solutions, including limiting the number of rentals in large multi-unit buildings, charging a per-night fee that goes toward a housing fund, and working out an agreement on taxes.
Minardi said short-term rental businesses have a "cornucopia of solutions" that are working in other cities.
For her part, Tarkanian said she is doing what the people in her district want. She pointed out at the Dec. 5 meeting about the ordinance, the vast majority of people there favored the new rules and the majority of those people were homeowners. But she said the people opposing the new rules were not homeowners in the city.
"We represent the people who live within our city and that's what we listened to," she said.
Tarkanian also said that at least the city has tried to do something to regulate the industry, unlike other jurisdictions that have ordinances against short-term rentals but haven't tried to compromise and allow some short-term rentals.
Minardi said his website does not remove illegal short-term rentals, but he believes if the city had better ways to regulate the industry it would boost the number of people who did follow the rules and websites like his would actually help drive up compliance.
One of the largest short-term rentals websites, Airbnb, could not provide a spokesperson to be part of the discussion, but it did provide the following statement from public affairs officer Laura Rillos:
"While cities around the world are embracing the economic benefits of short-term rentals, the City Council has doubled-down on onerous regulations, and added further restrictions. Last week's vote was a disappointing blow to Las Vegas hosts who rely on short-term rentals to support their families and will hurt the local economy. We have made efforts to work with the City Council on regulations that would give them better tools to enforce the law and simplify the registration process to increase compliance, and hoped they would defer voting on the ordinance in order to do so."
Lois Tarkanian, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Las Vegas; Philip Minardi,
director of policy communications, Expedia and HomeAway
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