Several Louisville Metro Council members have proposed a resolution asking Metro Government to stop issuing and enforcing violations against homeowners renting space through websites such as Airbnb as the city weighs new regulations to address such rentals.
Sponsored by councilmen James Peden, Tom Owen and Bill Hollander, the resolution comes after the city, responding to complaints, sent letters to about 20 homeowners providing short-term rentals, saying they were operating illegal hotels or motels and ordering them to stop or risk fines.
“Many people would agree that our current land development code is essentially silent on the question of short-term rentals,” said Owen. “We’re asking the enforcement of those citations be held up for 90 days.”
Officials with the Develop Louisville office, which handles permits and licensing, said it is already reviewing codes and examining the possibility of proposing new regulations.
Jim Mims, head of the office, earlier said the city would take a “very cautious approach to enforcement” as the issue is reviewed and on Friday said he’d be open to the resolution if approved. He said the city currently has 40-50 complaints on file for such rentals.
“I won’t object, because this will be difficult to enforce until we come together as a community and address this,” he said, noting his department is researching what other cities are doing and working with the county attorney’s office to consider regulations.
The Courier-Journal reported earlier this month that cities across the nation are struggling with the same issue amid growing use of home sharing sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey, which allow people to rent their property. Some rent a couch, bed or room while others rent a duplex or house.
The rentals are unlike traditional lodging, where guests pay the transient room taxes and businesses are required to have a license and are subject to health inspections.
Owen said new rules will require a careful balancing act. He said there are a number of competing concerns: Ensuring rentals are safe and don’t have a negative impact on neighbors; avoiding too many taxes and regulations that could stymie the market; and hospitality industry concerns that such rentals currently have an unfair advantage.
At least some people who rented out parts of their homes told The Courier-Journal earlier this month they would not be opposed to some regulations.
“It’s been a complex and volatile issue,” Owen said. “I wanted to buy some time for us to consider a thoughtful change in land development code to allow for these operations but at the same time regulate them reasonably.”
The resolution still has to make its way through a committee, Owen said, and the full council next meets on March 26 meeting.