Locked out? Renting out your Las Vegas home on Airbnb just got m - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Locked out? Renting out your Las Vegas home on Airbnb just got more difficult

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Homeowners who rent out properties through Airbnb will have to apply for a new permit. Homeowners who rent out properties through Airbnb will have to apply for a new permit.
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Four members of the Las Vegas City Council voted to approve an ordinance that will make it more difficult for people trying to rent out vacation homes.

Short-term rentals have become increasingly popular in Las Vegas since websites like Airbnb made it easier for tourists to find a place to stay in the middle of a neighborhood instead of the Strip. Some neighbors said they hate the idea, calling them "party houses" that keep the whole block up at night with loud music.

In 2016, hosts in Las Vegas earned a combined $35.5 million by sharing their homes on Airbnb.

Wednesday's vote will now require property owners to apply for a special use permit. That means the family next door will have a say in whether a property owner's business lives or dies.

"It gives power to the neighbors to let you know what's going on in their neighborhoods," one proponent said.

Opponents of the ordinance said the city needs to worry more about enforcing the current rules instead of coming up with new ones. There's already a noise ordinance in place and a permitting process for short-term rentals, but just 161 properties have gone through the registration. The city estimated there are thousands of people who haven't applied.

Out of those 161 properties, just five have received complaints. One out of the 161 is an "old school" bed and breakfast.

"I think that a couple of bad apples are really starting to spoil it for the rest of us," property-owner Luke McWaters said. "Nobody's for party houses at all, but I think party houses make up less than one percent of the actual number of vacation rentals that are out there."

Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, Councilman Bob Coffin and Councilman Ricki Barlow voted to approve the ordinance. Councilman Bob Beers, Councilman Stavros Anthony and Mayor Pro Tem Steven Ross voted 'no.'

Coffin said he doesn't believe "commercial businesses" or "substitute hotel and motel rooms" should be running in neighborhoods, especially when property owners who don't live in their homes are "bad neighbors."

"This is truly an emergency," he said.

At one point, the city discussed "grandfathering in" property owners who have already gone through a registration process, but it was never voted on.

The city did not have a clear plan on how it plans to step up enforcement other than setting up a 24-hour tip line. There is just one code enforcement officer whose full-time job is to deal with problems involving rental properties.

AJ Modig, who owns five Airbnb properties, said he thinks standard use permits will be denied 999 out of 1,000 times.

"It'll probably put us out of business, or we'll go to North Las Vegas where the city is openly accepting vacation rentals," Modig said. "That's my plan. I'm already looking right now."

"While dozens of cities around the globe are embracing the economic benefits of home sharing, today's decision is a step in the wrong direction that threatens an important economic lifeline for thousands of Las Vegas families," wrote Jasmine Mora, the press secretary for Airbnb. "There are common sense solutions to address specific concerns and Airbnb is eager to work with policy makers to develop a better approach." 

The new ordinance takes effect immediately, as soon as the mayor signs the bill. Property owners who have already registered through the old process will have a grace period to apply for a special use permit.

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