Short-Term Rentals

Short-Term Rentals

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Short-Term RentalsNiki Kelly of The Journal Gazette reports that “Cities and towns in the state of Indiana wouldn’t be allowed to ban short-term rentals found on websites like Airbnb under a bill heard by state lawmakers Tuesday.

Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, said he is trying to find the balance between protecting home rule and the rights of Hoosiers to use their property as they see fit.

“This is an attempt to thread that needle,” he said. “We want to allow this emerging technology to continue.”

The Omaha World-Herald reported recently that “Nebraska lawmakers joined a national debate in April about regulating Airbnb and other home-based, short-term rentals.

“At issue was Legislative Bill 628, which would block local ordinances or regulations that target such rentals.

“Airbnb and similar online booking apps connect travelers with people willing to rent out a room or a whole house.

“State Sen. Tyson Larson of Bloomfield said the bill is modeled after a 2016 Arizona law pushed by the Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute is a Phoenix-based group advocating limited government.

LB 628 ensures no overstep by local governments,” he said.

“Larson said he doesn’t know of any problem regulations in Nebraska now. He said such rules popped up around the country, to the detriment of what we call the “sharing economy.”

Sen. Tyson is right. In nearby Kansas City, a bill has been proposed in the city and will be taken up in August. The bill will regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb, VRBO, and others.

Local hoteliers and traditional bed-and-breakfast proprietors want to see the playing field leveled. Southmoreland on the Plaza innkeeper Mark Reichle said, “I’ve been in business 27 years, generating and paying money to the city. These entities [STRs] are operating as a business also. They should be paying all relevant federal taxes, local sales taxes, state sales taxes, lodging taxes. And they should have to adhere to the same fire safety, alcohol-use, food and zoning codes as well.”

Many real estate investors bought long-term rentals and converted the property to STRs. They avoid the regulations of the hotel industry and accelerate dire housing shortages. In effect, they are cutting supply for residents, driving up prices and turning properties once counted as long-term housing stock for locals into miniature hotels for out-of-towners.

What owners of short-term rentals want to avoid is the Kansas City model according to Pitch

  • Permit fees ($100 the first year, $50 every year after that for owner-occupied; $259 the first year, $50 every year after that for non–owner occupied)
  • Non–owner occupied permit holders must obtain approval signatures of 75 percent of all adjacent property owners. If you can’t get 75 percent of your neighbors to sign off, you must pay $569. Then you must go through the usual process of applying for a special-use permit.
  • All hosts must install and maintain smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, per city building codes.
  • If you live in a multi-family housing unit (an apartment complex, for example), you can’t rent out your place as a short-term rental.
  • It cites “strict limits on how often one can share their homes. Another requirement will require a signed affidavit from adjacent neighbors,”
  • Pitch quotes Airbnb’s Midwest public-affairs manager, Benjamin Breit. He says KC’s short-term rental ordinance as written “would create one of the most restrictive and burdensome short-term rental regulatory structures in the country.”

It is a cautionary story for many who have been buying properties and converting them to short-term rentals. Someday soon, Ft. Wayne and a lot more cities may regulate the industry.

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