Complaints Lead Phoenix To Pass Short-Term Rental Ordinance

By Christina Estes, Steve Goldstein
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 8:45am
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2020 - 11:44am

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city council chambers
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Phoenix City Council meeting on January 8, 2020.

Owners of short-term rentals will soon face new rules. On Tuesday, the city council approved a new ordinance that will take effect in 30 days.

The ordinance (details below) will require property owners who rent houses from one to 30 days to register their properties with the city and provide an emergency contact who can respond to police requests within an hour. 

The idea is to cut down on so-called ‘party houses’ — that’s what Bonnie Raschke said she endures. 

“Throughout the month of December, we had parties three nights a week every week. We’ve had weddings, we’ve had everything. It’s been horrible,” she told council members.

The ordinance will also will ban short-term rentals from being used for special events, running businesses or selling liquor. While acknowledging there are responsible property owners who rent their homes short-term, Councilwoman Laura Pastor said there are also bad actors.

“There have been shootings. There have been prostitution happening,” she said. “There has been men urinating as they play beer pong out in a family neighborhood.” 

Some short-term operators worry the new ordinance could hurt them. Carrick Sears asked the council to remove the one-hour window for the property owner or a designated representative to respond to a police request by phone or text.

“If I’m on an airplane and I was to be contacted I would not even know of this issue until after the deadline-let alone time to have someone come to the property or be able to speak to it on the phone,” he said. 

In 2017, state lawmakers prohibited cities from regulating short-term rentals, but after complaints, the legislature allowed cities to outlaw large events and require registration. A committee is currently studying the issue, and legislators could change or create state laws based on the group’s recommendations.

Some residents want Phoenix to require short-term rentals in residential areas rent only to groups that meet the city’s definition of a household. The definition is either an individual or two or more related people. Or a group of no more than 5 people who are not related living together in a single unit. 

Planning Director Alan Stephenson says enforcing Phoenix’s definition of a family would be tough. “If someone says they’re a family, we won’t challenge that. There’s nothing that we can do with that and so, the concern is that you would have neighborhood expectations that we would be going into to shut down a house because neighbors counted more than 5 people going in there but the reality is there’s families that would be a part of that and it becomes very difficult to enforce.”

He said they will work with the city’s legal department and short-term rental operators to see what, if anything, they can do about limiting the number of people while monitoring action at the legislature.

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