Unmasking unlicensed Airbnb hosts

Hello all,
Las Vegas recently passed some strict regulations around short-term rentals and is hiring a company to find out who is operating Airbnb’s illegally. I am wondering if anybody knows who this company is, how they find unlicensed/un-permitted Airbnb’s and how hosts can avoid being caught by them.
Any ideas?

Operate within the rules/laws set forth by your city and state. It’s that simple. If you operate outside of the law, be prepared to take your punishment, and few here will have any sympathy for you.


You advertise on Airbnb - they will find you! This always makes me wonder - how easy is it to have a registration number…you display it - they check it - all is well. You dont have one …on your own head and the fines etc that go with it!

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Can anyone tell me how to avoid paying tax? I’d really rather not do it.
Also, I have a somewhat inconvenient item for disposal - any advice? It’s rolled up tight in a carpet but doesn’t fit into any of the local waste bins. Also, without going into too much detail, it would be better if it was taken far from the property. What to do?



Just curious, what is the point of knowing the name of the company hired to sleuth out unlicensed STR’s?

The last I heard is that the City was going to pass an ordinance making hosting platforms (Air, VRBO, etc.) submit quarterly reports about the listings and managers to assess those not paying taxes. Maybe that company is the one collecting the info.

I have a 2br/2ba condo in a gated community off the Las Vegas strip. The minimum rental period allowed in the complex is 30 days and the HOA encourages homeowners to report those who are not complying.

If you are listing your STR on one of the major booking sites, it is a matter of time before you are found out. Once your neighbors suspect that the stream of guests entering/leaving your place with suitcases are transient renters, they will out you to the authorities.

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It seems you could avoid getting caught by being licensed.


Ha! Use cash or Bitcoin as your only accepted currency. As for the garbage, do it at night, avoid those pesky cameras and bring a shovel. Some people do rentals on Craigslist. You can possibly avoid regulations that way but you lose all protection too. It’s just better to follow the rules.


@Nick_Moffatt, I’m afraid you won’t find much sympathy here for operating outside of the law. We are free with our hard-earned advice to hosts who operate above-board and lawfully. The other, no so much.


Apparently a host in my town takes his listing down each morning before heading to work, and then turns it on when he gets home. He figured the city staff aren’t going to search for unlicensed rentals after work hours.

Clever, but a lot of work to avoid a $100 permit!

Now that Airbnb is directly remitting use tax to the state, I don’t think that trick will help him. If the state can see how much revenue each host made, the city won’t be far behind!

I’d concentrate on getting legal rather than how to evade taxation.

Good luck


I think there are programs you can pay for that will do the same thing.

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Smart BNB has an option for that.

We all have to realize there are many places that do not offer STR Permits anymore, and there is no ‘legal’ way of doing STR, bc the city has just said no. Barcelona is one of these cities. We luckily have a permit, but the city stopped issuing those in 2013, so any ‘new’ host could not be legal even if they wanted to. I’m not encouraging breaking the laws, I’m just reminding everyone that it may not be as simple as ‘just paying the fee and applying’ for a permit.


@azreala - I don’t quite follow you. If the area you are in has banned short-term rentals except for those who already have a permit, then isn’t it illegal to operate without one?? And if they won’t issue new ones, any host that did not get a permit before is operating illegally and can never operate legally (unless they change the laws).

What am I missing?

There were a few comments above implying the OP should just ‘go get a permit’ and I was offering another point of view, that in some cities it is no longer possible to just ‘go get a permt’

Once again not implying hosting ‘illegally’ is the best course of action.


As one of the people who provided an unhelpful response, I think your point was clearly made and those of us open to accepting the Grey area some people find themselves in were able to appreciate and respect it. I’m quite sure @PitonView could to.

Perhaps @Nick_Moffatt could help us understand why you can’t get a permit and we might be able to offer more practical suggestions. Apologies for being facicious.

I think there are many cities that have this ‘Grey’ area conundrum. We have Air Bnbs in two of these cities, Barcelona and Napa. We got sick of ‘hiding’ in Napa and just converted to a long-term rental. However, it does seem wildly unfair that the property I own, I can not STR. I’m sure people in NYC, Santa Monica, Venice (CA), and other cities that have outright banned Air BNB (with some exceptions), feel the same way.


@Emily - I don’t agree. There’s something called “grandfathering”, where something gets outlawed but some companies, properties, whatever, are still allowed to do that even though no one else can. It’s not a “grey” area. You can be very unhappy about it, but the law is the law. And, oh yeah, many laws are unfair in the eyes of some people. Just ask any American citizen whether the tax code is fair or not.

If a city requires a permit and you don’t have one and can no longer get one, you will be operating illegally if you continue to operate. That’s pretty black-and-white to me.


@PitonView Not spelled out here is that the “grey area” comes from lack of enforcement. When you live in an area where there are laws on the books banning anything, but it is never or rarely enforced it starts feeling pretty grey. There are plenty of examples of this outside of the STR world. Sodomy, blue laws, the Mann Act. I suspect there are many communities in Europe and the US who aren’t enforcing their STR laws, in the least. It becomes grey when you see it being done all around you with no enforcement.


There are a number of software programs that fine tooth comb the internet for listings and activity. They are being used, and there is no way around them. PS No sympathy for those who are outside the law and therefore turn the system against all of us.

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Nick Mogffat, what kind of license are you guys talking about? I never had to obtain any license to run Airbnb.

Some localities require a license.

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