City to revisit law on short-term rentals

LAS VEGAS - Living in Las Vegas has its advantages. If you're near the Strip, you can rent out a room in your home and make extra income. Some people count on that income.

The problem is residential rentals of fewer than 30 days are illegal in much of the valley. 

In 2012, when the owners of one house received a $29,000 fine, many figured it was a turning point in the effort to shut down party houses in Las Vegas.

8 News NOW has learned, however, that the problem has gotten worse.

“They were out to three, four o'clock in the morning, where they had condoms out there, panties out there,” said Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. “People sent me pictures of what they found on the street. This is not what belongs in the neighborhood.”

The party she refers to was held at a 4,000-square-foot rental in a quiet neighborhood near University Medical Center. The listed owner is an LLC in Chicago. A tourist can rent it through Craigslist for $260 a night.

On any given day, there are an estimated 2,000 residential properties around the valley offered as short-term rentals. Only a handful are properly registered.

“We have to do something, and it can't be what the county does - which is just say you can't have any short term rentals,” Tarkanian said. “Guess what? They have all these illegal ones. The county has as many as we have. We were trying to address it, and do it the right way, and it's not quite working."

The city allows some short-term rentals, but the vast majority of short-term rental property owners in the valley ignore the law – renting out homes on websites like Airbnb.

There are shared bedrooms going for as little as $21 a night and guestrooms in people's homes for $30 to $50 dollars a night. You can rent a small tract home near the Strip for $100 to $150 a night. Large custom homes are renting for $1,000 to $2,000 a night.

Julie Davies is a long-time Las Vegas resident and property owner who says short-term rentals should be allowed in the valley. Rental income is part of her plan for retirement.

"If I'm going to run a business, I'm going to do it legally,” she said.

She says she registers her properties, and spends time and effort vetting her guests – making sure they won't disrupt the neighborhood.

Davies says she has had so much trouble with short-term rental laws in Las Vegas, she recently invested out of state. She is successfully renting out a condo near Disney World.

"We're an international destination. We should be leaders in this area, but we're not,” she said.


She says if local leaders streamlined laws, collected taxes and cracked down on irresponsible party house owners, it would be good for everyone.

"I've crunched the numbers. Based on what I see on the reservation sites that are running in this area, we're losing millions of dollars,” she said.

That amounts to millions of dollars that would go into the hands of Las Vegas residents, instead of corporations that rule the Strip.

In San Francisco, thousands of property owners are getting around short-term rental laws. As a result, the City of San Francisco is suing reservations website Airbnb for listing unregistered rentals.

The Las Vegas City Council is revisiting the city’s laws on short-term rentals. An item is scheduled on the council’s agenda Wednesday.

In unincorporated Clark County, rentals of fewer than 30 days are illegal.


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