Opinion Photo

Arizona must rein in short-term rental



Arizona legislators need to seriously reconsider Senate Bill 1350 ushering in short-term rentals in 2016. The very unpopular bill, among residents and municipalities, was welcomed by legislators after slick short-term rental representatives sold the pitch, “We’re the good guys who’ll help ma and pa rent out that spare room to give ‘em an extra buck.”

SB 1350 left communities without authority to exact restrictions upon these nuisance houses. Unlike Arizona, many states weighed the short-term rental invasion more vigilantly setting rigid standards with stiff penalties prohibiting the free rein of unregulated short-term rentals.

AirBnB’s $90 billion market value adds meager revenue to inhabited communities. Instead, such short-term rental companies relegate expenses to municipalities and taxpayers by draining fiscal resources to enforce noise ordinances, manage and police disturbances. 

Meanwhile, short-term rental investors rake in easy money offering minimal, if any, management without requirements to enforce laws. Though some short-term rentals have “property managers,” their sole concern is their guests’ satisfaction. Meanwhile, antagonized, freaked out residents have to either move, suck it up or solicit local resources to quell what the “property managers” ignore.

To the uninitiated, short-term rentals seem innocent enough until one pops up on your block resulting in 24/7 disturbances by groups of entitled revelers, who have spent thousands for an average stay of three days about 40-plus weeks per year. These “passers through” basically assume ownership of the neighborhood until the next privileged partiers arrive to celebrate whatever blasting loud music and shouting incessantly in these ersatz hotels. 

Unfortunately, short-term rentals are free to elude laws hotels must adhere to, and are cheaper if large groups share the bill.

Absentee investors swoop into our free-wheeling state converting  homes into short-term rental windfalls. They bid up property listings, otherwise bought by people actually desiring to reside in a locality. Thus, short-term rental companies artificially increase real estate values, adding to our current, already inflated, prices. Ironically, residents in proximity to a short-term rental suffer decreased property value, in addition to being denied peace and safety.

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article in June 2021, dangerous things happen in short-term rentals, including shootings, drugs, prostitution, rape, and even murders. Interestingly, on Dec. .18, 2021, at 2:50 a.m. a shooting occurred at a short-term rental near Hayden and Indian School roads in Scottsdale. 

Short-term rental corporations cover up these disastrous problems to prevent bad publicity, their anathema. VRBO alone averages $50 million yearly in payouts for damages through their department of “trust-and-safety,” leveraging victims to sign nondisclosures. 

Arizona legislators must untie the hands of cities and towns by reestablishing the authority once maintained over short-term rentals flooding Arizona. Short-term rentals have conquered our state creating serious fallout with their unrestrained disturbances. Legislators are responsible to their constituents, not a multibillion-dollar enterprise that destroys once-quiet neighborhoods and siphons away taxpayer resources. SB 1350 must go in 2022.

Janet L. Veves