Henderson imposes moratorium on new vacation rentals

Residents complain neighborhoods are becoming ‘motel strips’

where the magic happens
(Photo: City of Henderson)

Henderson City Councilman John Marz says he has the “privilege” of living next door to a short-term vacation rental.  He says he’s called the owner five times to complain about late night partying.  

“Why can’t you control the people who are renting?” Marz says he’s asked of the owner, who “is getting $3,000 a night for his home. You fine him 100 bucks.  He could really care less.”

The vacation rental next door to Marz is one of 378 operating in Henderson, according to data compiled by Host Compliance, a vendor contracted by the city last year to monitor and administer short-term vacation rental (STVR) licensing.  Of those, 280 are registered with the city, pay an annual fee, and collect transient lodging taxes from tenants.  

Henderson is the only municipality in Southern Nevada to allow the short-term rental of entire homes.

Marz wants property owners to be fined more when tenants behave badly. The council voted unanimously Tuesday to put a hold on new applications for short-term rental permits for 90 days while officials hone the ordinance passed last year.  

The city reports receiving 336 complaint calls since approving STVRs, resulting in 42 citations and $6,480 in fines.  The city says it intends to notify three registered property owners it is terminating their permits.  

Identifying and ending unlicensed operations was a primary goal when the Henderson City Council voted in July 2019 to regulate the vacation rental industry.  

“The vendors have software, they can scrape data and get down to the specific address and location,” Henderson Planning manager Eddie Dichter told the Current at the time. 

But the city says it does not know how many, if any, unregistered operations have been identified, fined, and terminated since regulation began.  

“STVRs are eating up our quiet neighborhoods,” Clark County School Board Trustee Deanna Wright wrote in a public comment to the city council. “My neighborhood specifically is being gobbled up by home investors trying to cash in on the charm, safety, location and lack of HOA’s (sic) for a profit while we who live there are suffering the real life consequences…”

Real estate agent and vacation rental owner Cindy Lowman say STVRs are pushing up property values. 

“All of my clients are paying over market value for these homes,” she told the council. 

“We have neighbors in our neighborhood that are haters,” Lowman said, adding that people who buy in neighborhoods without homeowners’ associations “took a gamble.” 

But homeowners contend short-term rentals trample on their right to quiet enjoyment of their residential-zoned properties.

“Your actions have transformed my residential neighborhood into a motel strip,” wrote resident Elizabeth Brickfield, who says there are four vacation rentals within 200 feet of her house. 

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, the lobbying arm of the state’s casino industry, said in a written comment to the city that it’s “imperative to pause and revisit the effectiveness of the new short-term rental regulations in meeting the Council’s goals of protecting the public health and safety of city residents and guests while preserving neighborhoods.”

Leslie Davis, who lives near Nate Mack Elementary in Green Valley, told the council that vacation rentals don’t comport with Henderson’s brand as a tranquil, safe, and family-friendly city.  

Davis wants the council to impose a buffer between schools and STVRs. 

“In a city full of hotel rooms, rentals are not necessary except for generating taxes,” she said.  

But resident Thomas Davis told the council he and his wife have supported themselves “with great success” from their rental income after being laid off because of COVID-19.  

“It’s just your next-door neighbor trying to make extra money, not investors,” he said. 

But the Current’s review of public records indicates the majority of STVR owners are corporations or out-of-town investors, not longtime residents augmenting their income. 

Of the 280 licensed STVRs in Henderson:

  • 36 percent are held by out of state investors
  • 32 percent were owned by individuals prior to the ordinance
  • 40 percent are owned by individuals who purchased after the ordinance
  • 28 percent are owned by corporations

Henderson is looking at a number of tweaks to its ordinance, including limiting the number of STVRs within neighborhoods, imposing stricter occupancy limits, regulating the use of backyard pools and spas, and reducing the amount of time owners have to respond to complaints before neighbors may call the police.  

Mayor Debra March said the city wants “to make sure it’s working in all neighborhoods” and ensure “homeowners have the quiet enjoyment” of their property.  

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.