Scottsdale cracks down on Airbnbs with licenses ahead of Super Bowl

  • There are about 5,000 short-term rentals in Scottsdale, Arizona, a local CBS affiliate reported.
  • Rental landlords face new regulations as they prepare for an influx of Super Bowl and PGA Tour fans.
  • Some locals say short-term rentals have had a detrimental effect on neighborhoods.

The desert destination of Scottsdale, Arizona, 30 minutes from downtown Phoenix, sets foot on the thousands of short-term rentals that dominate the local real estate market.

Starting this month, the city requires Airbnb and Vrbo hosts to apply for a business license and pay an annual fee of $250.

The regulation is a warning to the industry that flourished under a 2016 Arizona law banning local caps on short-term rentals. A 2022 state law allowing cities to require licenses made the move possible for Scottsdale, which had been crippled in its efforts to expand market oversight.

“It’s the only thing we can do right now,” Solange Whitehead, a Scottsdale councilor, told Insider.

The settlement is about to be thoroughly tested.

Scottsdale will be inundated with visitors next month, when the Super Bowl and the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open take place locally in a single week. More than 500,000 people visited Scottsdale in 2015, the last time Arizona hosted the Super Bowl, according to Arizona PBS.

Airbnb boasting of their proximity to major sporting events can go for $850 per night.

Scottsdale joins the dozens of cities across America are trying to control their number of short-term rentals, which reaches a record level of supply in the United States last year. The popular vacation town of Sedona, a two-hour drive north of Scottsdale, offered hosts $10,000 to opt out and sign one-year leases with residents instead, but only three applied.

Short-term rental hosts showed a similar lack of enthusiasm for Scottsdale’s new program.

Only a third of the city’s roughly 5,000 hosts have applied for the required license, according to a local CBS affiliate. Starting this month, hosts found operating without a license incur a fine of $1,000 for their first offense.

By resisting the regulations, the hosts are upsetting locals who complain that short-term rentals are having a detrimental effect on the city by reducing available housing for residents and the sense of community.

“There are relatively few areas where majority owners or residents remain,” said local resident Susan Edwards. Phoenix CBS Affiliate.

“It’s destroying neighborhoods in Scottsdale,” Edwards added.

Expansion of holiday cushions has been a ‘slow-cooked lobster’

Indeed, the explosion of short-term rentals in Scottsdale is “out of control,” said Whitehead, the councilor. She compared the simmering tensions over the issue to a “slow-cooked lobster”.

“We have people in cul-de-sacs who no longer have neighbors,” Whitehead said.

When a Scottsdale resident confronted a neighboring short-term host about ‘awful parties and lewd behavior’, the host replied that it might be time for the neighbor to move, she said declared.

The $250 annual host fee is a nominal fee and is designed to fund the city’s basic visibility into the number of vacation rentals in operation, Whitehead said. The city needs to rely on a third-party site for the same function, she added.

The adviser has no intention of trying to ban short stays, she said. But she said there could be greater control over properties in the face of recent security incidents and rising housing costs. The median Scottsdale home is valued at $800,000, nearly double the 2017 median, according to Zillow.

“There’s a place for that. We just need regulations that protect everyone,” she told Insider.

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