Louisville, Kentucky (WDRB) — City leaders are looking to crack down on who can run short-term rentals in Louisville.
The Metro Council is considering a permanent overhaul of the city’s rules surrounding homes and apartments rented overnight on Airbnb, VRBO and other platforms.
The proposed changes, which were approved by the council’s planning and zoning committee on Tuesday, August 29, could be approved by the full council at its meeting on September 14.
Residents of some city neighborhoods are concerned about the impact investors are having by buying homes and converting them into short-term rentals. These areas include Irish Hill, Phoenix Hill, Butchertown, and The Highlands.
Others, however, worry that it will turn away tourists looking to save money and enjoy a more authentic Louisville experience.
Dawn Moretz is a “superhost” who doesn’t live in one of the expected Airbnb destinations. Her home is in Okolona, but she said the location has an advantage.
“I think it’s calm,” Moretz said. “I think they like to have this home environment because it makes them feel safe and secure.”
Moretz is the type of short-term rental host that Metro Council member Ben Reno-Weber said won’t be affected by the updated law because she hosts out of her home full time.
Some members of the Metro Council said there is a loophole in the current law that allows some landlords to operate rentals without a permit.
“An investment property, ownerless, occupied by Airbnb is essentially a hotel,” said Reno Weber, D-8th.
Lisa Santos, of the Irish Hill Neighborhood Association, said short-term rents had caused their values to skyrocket.
“We cry for people to be able to buy a place, when they can’t buy or rent a house,” Santos said.
The updated law would raise annual registration fees and require non-owner-occupied rentals to obtain a permit.
But Santos said this is not enough.
“We want it to be run by owners,” she said.
In fact, Santos was part of the coalition that sent a letter to the Subway Board objecting to the changes.
Dear Metro Commander,
Next week, Metro Council will vote on much-needed changes to our short-term rental regulations. We support this step, but we object to the recent amendment that was approved at the committee level.
We believe allowing ‘host occupied’ rentals will lead to the abuse we see in the current law. Neighbor after neighbor has reported to us the lies perpetrated by absentee owners who advise them that their cleaner, child or property manager is the ‘host’ of the property. We believe that even with the new residency requirements, this arrangement opens a loophole that citizens have asked their government to close. We do not enjoy the time it will take to observe the stay and attend the subsequent hearing. We encourage long-term tenants who this amendment is intended to help open up their homes to other long-term tenants.
Stop regulatory abuse, strengthen neighborhood protections, and provide ample long-term housing options.
It was respectfully introduced by the Citizens Coalition to Reform the Land Development Act.”
Reno Weber said he reviewed the letter, and said they are still considering changes to the law, so there is an opportunity to address their concerns.
The goal, he said, is to eliminate “bad actors,” while leaving room for some non-owner hosts.
“We want to be able to support the equality cause for people who have legitimate, long-term tenancies somewhere, and who want to rent out their apartment with the landlord’s permission to Derby,” he said.
Moritz hopes the changes being made, whatever they are, won’t take away someone’s authentic Louisville experience.
“It gives you a chance to get a taste of all the different communities and neighborhoods before you decide for yourself where you want to be,” she said. “I would hate to miss this opportunity.”
The only “no” vote on the proposed changes in the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee was Councilman Khalil Batshoun. He said he is concerned that the ordinance is not ready and that it adds more bureaucracy to the process.
He’d love to see if there’s a way to spread approved Airbnbs across other regions.
“Now this gives you an opportunity for these other areas that lack economic growth and infrastructure growth to attract more destinations, recreational areas or something like that, to the parts of society that they’re striving for,” Batshon said. “I think we need to get on that path to continue to grow and help small businesses and continue to grow as a city instead of going backwards and not wanting anyone to do business or develop in our communities.”
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