Clark County approves regulations on short-term rentals like Airbnb
UPDATE (June 22): Clark County Commissioners have approved an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals in unincorporated Clark County.
Provisions in the ordinance include rules that prohibit more than one short-term rental to be within 1,000 feet of another.
Also, the hosts must allow the county to inspect the residential units without advance notice. And, it allows for misdemeanor citations for violations of the ordinance, which means the possibility of criminal liability for issues as minor as the placement of trash.
The ordinance was prompted by the Nevada Legislature, mandating that the county allow short term rental businesses, such as Airbnb, to operate.
Airbnb said in a statement on Tuesday that the new rules that will limit the number of accommodations available to visitors and make it harder for Clark County residents to share their homes.
ORIGINAL REPORT (May 5): Whether you like it or not, short-term rentals are coming back to unincorporated Clark County.
Commissioners are rushing to figure out a game plan on how they should be regulated before the July 1 deadline.
The ordinance follows the passage of Assembly Bill 363, which mandates that Clark County allow and regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo.
Last week, the county released its proposed short-term rental ordinance.
Commissioner Justin Jones said thousands of residents responded to the county’s survey, which was the basis for the proposed regulations. “The results very much showed that people wanted more restrictions on short-term rentals.”
All the cities – Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas – have their own regulations for these rentals such as Airbnb or Vrbo, but Clark County has never had a licensing procedure for them.
Jones said the county proposed keeping the front-end fees low because they wanted to make sure they didn’t exclude regular homeowners. On the back end of it, he said, fines for violations are stiff.
Owners of these rentals can be disqualified if they get noise complaints, or if crime happens on their properties. They wanted to ensure “party houses” could have their licenses pulled immediately. For seven years after that, the owner can’t apply for a new license.
The number of licenses will limit short-term rentals to 1% of the total housing stock, Jones said, which amounts to about 2,000 to 3,000 homes.
“We heard a lot of concerns that this would do away with affordable housing, which we already have a crisis, and so we're going to go ahead and use a random generation process for deciding who gets those licenses and they have to comply with all of the other regulations that go on their distance separation and making sure that they have residential sewer, hookup, commercial trash, etc.,” he said.
Operating a short-term rental without a license in unincorporated Clark County could mean fines of up to $1,000 to $10,000 per day, depending on the type of violation. The fines are high because the biggest offenders “don’t care, they don’t pay” when they’re making tens of thousands of dollars, he said.
Apartments can’t be listed, Jones said, but condominiums can be if the HOA allows it. For condos, 10% of a complex can be used for short-term rentals.
While enforcement rests with a county team and partnership with Las Vegas police, Jones said they’ll be at the Nevada Legislature next year, asking for more power in that department.
“We don't think the authority that we are given in this bill, A.B. 363, is sufficient to enforce what we were told by the state we had to do,” he said.
Jackie Flores, the founder of the Greater Las Vegas Short Term Rental Association, disagrees strongly with the proposal, saying it was “as horrible as expected.”
“It's an ordinance that is just looking to destroy the short-term rental industry, takes people's ability to earn a living,” she said. “And it's just to make it difficult and impossible for some to be able to qualify for a license.”
She believes currently, there are about 10,000 to 12,000 operators in unincorporated Clark County.
“Everybody else has been punished for the actions of a few,” she said, noting that their group does not support party houses and think they should be heavily regulated. “It's unfair that they're being treated as bad actors when they haven't done anything to be treated in that respect.”
She brought up a note on the county’s website, directing residents who suspect their neighbors are running a short-term rental, to report them. Jones said it’s not a “campaign,” but they are “complaint-driven.”
One of the many regulations forbids a short-term rental within 1,000 feet of an existing short-term rental or within 2,500 feet of a resort-hotel.
“A lot of our members feel that our Democratic officials, our leaders here in the county and in the state, are in a war against regular people. And they are here just to protect corporate profits,” she said.
Jones said the county includes similar distance bans to many licensees, including dispensaries and bars.
“I'm focused on protecting my constituents. My constituents overwhelmingly said that they wanted restrictions on short-term rentals,” he said.