Clark County Cracks Down On Short-Term Rentals

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    Short-term rentals are illegal in Clark County, but a quick look at rental websites make it obvious people are breaking the law. There are tons of them online, from high-rise apartments to suburban homes. 

    Last week, Clark County commissioners approved a new law they think will make it easier to crack down on short-term rentals. 

    Jim Andersen is the head of code enforcement for Clark County. He said under the old rules, fines for short-term rentals would become a lien on the property, but homeowners would ignore it because they weren’t selling their homes.

    Under the new ordinance, a $1,000-a-day fine for using a house as short-term rental will be added to the owner’s property taxes.

    Andersen explained there are usually two types of homeowners. The first has a second home and decides to rent it because they don’t know its illegal, and when the county sends them a notice, they comply. 

    The second kind of property owner is an investor with several properties.

    “They soon learn from our notices that it’s illegal where we are, and they dig their heels into the ground and try to come up with creative ways to get around our codes to not shut down,” Andersen said.

    Andersen said during a hearing about the ordinance a group of neighbors showed up to support it because one investor had several homes in their neighborhood that he was renting out on a short-term basis.

    For neighbors, the problem is the noise and disruption from party houses.

    “People bringing the Strip party mentality into neighborhoods,” Andersen.

    Besides the new ordinance, last year, the county approved hiring new code enforcement officers to work on its short-term rental team. The team works weekends to find, document and fine rentals.

    As for the websites that advertise the properties, Andersen said there has been little communication with sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

    “It’s been a struggle for a lot of jurisdictions to try to regulate or outright ban these folks because ultimately they are just a hosting platform,” he said. “They’re not saying it’s illegal or not. They’re just advertising what people want to advertise on their website.”

    Short-term rentals are only part of what the new ordinance covers. It also allows code enforcement to assess fines on property taxes of abandoned or half-built homes. 

    Written by Kristen Totten for knpr.org.

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