Phoenix-area towns seek help with short-term rentals

It’s great to be able to travel out of town and rent a room or a small guest room in someone’s well-kept house.

However, some deregulation that has taken place in Arizona — specifically a state law passed in 2016 — has created a number of issues in communities across the state.

Some Northwest Valley leaders, local governance advocates, and other Valley people are lobbying the state legislature to amend or repeal Senate Bill 1350. This 2016 law, which prevents local municipalities from creating rules or restrictions specific to short-term rentals, has handcuffed local governments in Arizona to fight some of the evils that come with the boom of businesses such as AirBnB and VRBO.

Make adjustments

A decision to change this 5-year-old law this year would not be the first attempt to change it. House Bill 2672, passed in 2019, requires landlords who rent out space to provide authorities with their contact details in the event of a complaint, such as excessive noise, and also prohibits rentals for the purpose of hosting a special event that would otherwise require a permit. or license or for the use of residential property for commercial purposes.

This law also requires all “online accommodation operators” to obtain a transaction lien tax license before offering rentals and display the license number on all listings.

However, rental app users have found ways around these restrictions, and some situations with rental properties have gradually gotten worse.

Short-circuit housing

The buying and hoarding of real estate by hotel and real estate companies, as well as the proliferation of “party houses”, seem to be two of the main complaints about short-term rentals.

Around the state, places with limited housing inventory in the first place, such as Sedona, Payson and Globe, have struggled to meet demand from growing tourism industries and the need for employee housing as companies buy houses to rent them room by room or as a single unit.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, vacation spots, hotel and travel frustration have set in, and demand for vacations has increased further.

Last year, Rep. JD Mesnard, R-Chandler, submitted Senate Bill 1379 which authorized the Senate, but was soundly defeated in the House. This year, with a slight reorganization of the composition of the two chambers, he hopes for a different result.

“I start with the final version of 1379, as a starting point for this year,” Mesnard said. “I hope we get the support of resident citizen owners this time.”

Mesnard’s Senate Bill 1168, along with a related House bill, Bill 2234, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, would give municipalities more tools to sue businesses or anyone who owns “party houses” which are rented to customers and which violate local noise, nuisance or other ordinances.

Another bill, House Bill 2069, proposed by Rep. Walt Blackman, R-Snowflake, is a repeal of Senate Bill 1350, the 2016 law signed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. The bill introduced by Blackman would restore the law before changes were made. Her District 6 seat neighbor, Senator Wendy Rogers of Flagstaff, has identical legislation in Senate Bill 1026.

Some leaders, including Mesnard, say Blackman’s proposed repeal goes too far. Mesnard said his measures solve one of the biggest problems: irresponsible short-term renters.

Scottsdale Efforts

Brent Stockwell, Scottsdale’s deputy city manager, is part of the city’s short-term rental task force. He said the issues surrounding short-term rentals are complex and their growth accelerated soon after SB 1350 was enacted.

“Soon after this local authority preemption, Scottsdale began to hear from voters about their desire to change the law to allow for reasonable regulation,” Stockwell said. “(Residents want) to limit the proliferation of short-term rentals and ban activities that disrupt their neighborhoods and quality of life, such as loud noise, crowds and litter.”

Stockwell said Scottsdale has more than 4,000 short-term rental properties.

“Residents have consistently and repeatedly asked the city for help in mitigating the adverse effects of short-term rentals,” he said.

This resulted in hundreds of new calls to the Scottsdale Police Department, Stockwell said.

“The destructive experiences in our neighborhoods are shared by many across the state of Arizona and the effects have been so damaging that some homeowners have left their homes,” Stockwell said.

He said city staff are working with the other hardest-hit cities, including Paradise Valley, Sedona, Flagstaff and Lake Havasu, and assisting with efforts by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to pass a bill that would be best for all Arizona residents.

The entire Scottsdale City Council has signed a letter to Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, asking for assistance in the form of additional legislative tools to deal with tenancy situations.

The Scottsdale committee developed these priorities:

• Allow cities to impose reasonable license or permit requirements.

• Restore the ability of cities to manage short-term rentals differently from long-term rentals.

• Create a mechanism that caps the total percentage of short-term rentals allowed and establishes a method to provide better separation between rentals.

• Require platforms to disclose state laws and local ordinances, and require recognition from landlords, hosts, and tenants.

• Require short-term rentals to comply with many public health and safety laws that apply to hotels.

Paradise Valley

In November, Paradise Valley City Council discussed other ways to strengthen its authority to work with short-term rentals. New tools to deal with tenancy situations is one of the council’s stated priorities ahead of this year’s legislative session.

The meeting included contributions from police department officials who spoke about the strain on the cause of public safety short-term rentals, as well as other unintended consequences. A police sergeant said there were so many drugs, alcohol, assaults, sex crimes, robberies and other factors in rented homes, which sometimes host parties including 400 people, that it stretches the ability of law enforcement to control these situations.

The meeting produced some proposed amendments to the code, which include expanding the definition of “special events” to capture problematic activities, requiring an in-person response from the owner within an hour when people found in a rental property and a set of health and safety standards that include cleaning the rental between reservations that follow CDC guidelines.

The city has struggled with these issues for some time. Last January, in a call attended by state lawmakers and the city-hired lobbyist, Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner said there were many problems with what he called “unregulated motels”.

“It’s not really a party house problem – it’s what the industry would like to pretend it is,” he said.

Bien-Willner, who is running for re-election this year, recently wrote an opinion piece for Independent Newsmedia in which he pledged to “finish the job when it comes to reigning in the situation of short-term rental and ensure the protection of our residents and neighborhoods. .”

Other communities

During last year’s legislative session, Sun City Home Owners Association officials backed a bill that would have allowed more local control over short-term rentals. Complaints of various types have been discussed at SCHOA meetings for years.

Not all of the worst short-term rental situations in Arizona are in the Valley. Sedona is surrounded by high red rock cliffs and national forest land, which limits its ability to build more housing in the city, and any private property is quickly gobbled up by individuals or businesses looking to generate short-term rental income. term in a variety. of routes. Housing for city and private staff

Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty has said each year that getting the legislature’s help with the unintended consequences of SB 1350 is a top priority for the city.

However, some communities are growing so quickly and have such a presence of homeowners association restrictions that short-term rental issues have yet to creep into town. Buckeye spokeswoman Annie DeChance said while short-term rental legislation and more guidelines are a stated priority this year, the city hasn’t gone through the kind of spinoff that Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Sedona and other Arizona communities passed through.

“Currently, Buckeye doesn’t have a significant number of short-term rentals, so we haven’t encountered some of the challenges that other cities face,” DeChance said. “If that changes, we are actively participating in the legislative process and can quickly amend our city code as appropriate.”

Another town in the Southwest Valley, however, has approved measures to help manage short-term rentals. The town of Litchfield Park passed a measure this week requiring similar things to Paradise Valley for these short-term rentals within the community.

Independent Newsmedia’s Melissa Rosequist and Rusty Bradshaw contributed to this story.

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