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Las Vegas Considers More Regulation For Short-Term Rentals

Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, more than 340,000 Nevada visitors skipped the hotels and opted to rent out homes or apartments from residents.

In the city of Las Vegas, these short-term rentals already need to be licensed. But a new, controversial bill would also require special-use permits and a handful of other stipulations. Among them, houses with more than five bedrooms would have to have a resident manager on site, and bedrooms would be limited to two occupants.

Neighbors of these rentals largely support this bill. They've complained for years about parties, residential streets lined with cars, and noise into the wee hours of the morning.

On the flip side, critics say excessive regulation will hurt tourism and the few extra dollars being earned by these homeowners.

City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian sponsored the ordinance. She cited complaints about short-term rentals in the city ward she represents because there are larger, older homes that are close to the Strip. 

Tarkanian said she's made many changes to the ordinance since it was first introduced. The bill no longer requires owners to keep a public register of guests, nor does it require short-term rentals to display a placard with contact information in public view.

However, the most controversial piece of the ordinance, the special-use permit, remains. Special-use permits, must be approved by the city council. 

City Councilman Bob Beers co-sponsors the bill. He added language that exempts owner-occupied rentals. 

“Nobody wants party houses," Beers said. "Let’s remember that’s the problem. The problem isn’t short-term rentals — the problem is party houses.”

Julie Davies with the Vegas Vacation Rental Association agreed with Beers. The association represents owners of short-term rentals. She said her group wants to rein in bad operators as well. 

"The Vegas Vacation Rental Association doesn't want party houses or bad operators in the neighborhoods either," she said. "We wouldn't want one next to us."

Davies said the group is for reasonable regulation. She believes the city ordinance will be an "effectual ban on short-term rentals" because a special-use permit is expensive and difficult to get. She said owners will just go underground rather than jump through the hoops of getting a permit. 

Homeowner and president of the John S. Park Neighborhood Association Dayvid Figler has a different view of the issue. There are several short-term rental properties in his neighborhood, and he believes the permit is another form of licensing.

"What is being proposed ... is to have a reasonable approach to transforming traditional residential neighborhoods into zones of commercial enterprise," he said. 

Tarkanian and Beers agree with Figler that it is a zoning issue.

“This is a land-use issue, also," Tarkanian said. "This land was designated residential and zoned residential. We are bringing in businesses, commercial businesses, when we bring in these things.”    

Figler said if a homeowner has complied with all the ordinances and regulations, they shouldn't have a problem getting a special-use permit. He said the permitting process allows homeowners living next to the rentals to weigh in on how the property is being managed. 

All guests agreed that enforcement of the city codes is a problem.

Beers said that if someone who rents out a house for $5,000 for the weekend gets a $100 ticket for a code violation, they won't be deterred from doing it again.

“We need to make the penalties a little stiffer, a little more appropriate and many of the points the short-term rental group wants to make we want to do to,” he said.

Figler said it is "foolhardy" to believe code enforcement is going to investigate a noise complaint at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night. 

Davies said they would like to have the association work much like a homeowners association, so that if there is a complaint, a neighbor can call a hotline and get a response immediately. 

This bill will be heard by a city recommending committee on June 19.



Lois Tarkanian, councilwoman, City of Las Vegas; Bob Beers, councilman, City of Las Vegas; Dayvid Figler, president, John S. Park Neighborhood Association; Julie Davies, spokesperson, Vegas Vacation Rental Association

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.