Las Vegas approves rules to crack down on short-term rentals

By REGINA GARCIA CANO Markets Associated Press

Las Vegas property owners interested in renting out their properties for brief periods will have to comply with new rules passed Wednesday meant to crack down on a booming short-term rental industry that has raised concerns among some residents and local officials.

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The new requirements were approved as complaints over raucous parties at short-term rentals have mounted over the years and following more than three hours of debate among city officials and comments from dozens of residents.

Owners now will need a special use permit, proof of liability insurance for $500,000 and letter-size placards outside the properties with contact information and maximum allowed occupancy.

City officials were split on the ordinance. While some council members strongly favor the regulations, others, including the mayor, questioned whether they will truly put an end to the use of rentals as "party houses" since enforcement of the existing regulations has not been efficient.

"Everything I'm hearing is exactly the same. It's party houses and party houses and party houses, and none of us wants them in our neighborhood," Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. "... But this isn't going to do anything, in my opinion, to stop the party houses."

Figures released in February by the San Francisco-based home-sharing service Airbnb show people in Las Vegas who listed their homes through the company hosted more than a quarter of a million people last year and earned $35.5 million.

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Las Vegas drew a record number of visitors for a third straight year in 2016, attracting almost 43 million tourists. Unincorporated Clark County — which includes properties near the Las Vegas Strip — does not allow short-term rentals in residential areas.

Pat Flick, a resident of downtown Las Vegas, detailed the issues she has faced since 2011 with a short-term rental property adjacent to her property.

"They had barbeques, bands, weddings, all kinds of receptions, limousines pulling in the driveway," Flick said. "We've found trash in our backyard. It's ongoing. We've had people walk in our driveway ... and say 'We're here for the party.'"

Short-term rentals were already required to pass a safety and minimum property standard inspection, obtain a business license and pay an annual $500 permit fee. Short-term rentals may not be within 660 feet of each other as measured from their property lines.

The new special-use permit carries a fee of $1,030. It also requires units with more than 5 bedrooms to have one additional parking spot for every two additional bedrooms.

Airbnb spokeswoman Jasmine Mora in a statement said the council's decision "is a step in the wrong direction that threatens an important economic lifeline for thousands of Las Vegas families."

The company has run into regulatory battles in some cities, including New York and San Francisco. In some cities, local officials have complained that the boom in short-term rentals, led by Airbnb — which boasts millions of rental listings around the world — is reducing long-term housing for residents.

In May, Seattle officials and Airbnb reached a deal in a lawsuit stemming from the city's efforts to prevent the website from including housing units that violate city restrictions on who can list properties and for how long. Under the settlement, residents have to provide their registration number to list a rental on the website.

Nickee Dudley, who lists her licensed four-bedroom home that features a basketball court and pool, said she was disappointed with the approval of regulations. She questioned whether it would be worth listing her home and obtaining the special use permit.

"If you have a grumpy old neighbor, can they say we don't like it because they have a basketball court that's too noisy?" she said. "So, maybe I don't get a new license."

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO / More of her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/ReginaGarciaCano