Clark County has a new weapon against homeowners who lease their properties as short-term rentals, which are illegal in the county.
Until now, county officials have tried to penalize short-term rental owners by assessing a $1,000 a day fine and placing a lien on the property for the amount fined. But liens can remain on properties for years with the underlying debt unpaid.
“A lien on the property has not been effective with some homeowners,” Code Enforcement Administrator Jim Anderson told commissioners.
Beginning after Labor Day, property owners who violate the code will receive an assessment for the fine in their property tax bill. Under state law, the homeowner will have two and a half years to pay the assessment before the county can sell the property at auction.
“I think they should get one day’s notice and if they don’t comply we should be able to go in and shut them down,” said Commission chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “But that’s not due process.”
Kirkpatrick suggested the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority work with McCarran International Airport to institute an advertising campaign to combat short-term rentals.
“Let’s remind tourists to stay on the Strip or downtown,” she said.
“The LVCVA’s job is to get people here,” said marketing guru Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners in an interview Tuesday. R&R has had the LVCVA’s advertising contract since 1980. “We don’t spend a lot in-market.”
Vassiliadis, who is also the lobbyist for Expedia, a short-term rental platform, says he doesn’t know if the county’s ban of short-term rentals is the best approach.
“For tourism, there needs to be accountability and oversight,” says Vassiliadis, whose firm also represents MGM Resorts. “But at the same time, young travelers are prone to do a short-term rental. We’ve got to pay attention to emerging visitors as well as core visitors.”
“Are the hotels being impacted here? I’ve got to believe some are,” says Vassiliadis, noting the difficulty in determining the prevalence of short-term rentals. “But room occupancy has been so strong.”
Vassiliadis says his representation of both the LVCVA and Expedia has not been an issue to date.
“It’s never come up as a point of contention. We’ve had Expedia as a client for a long time — before they were doing short-term rentals,” Vassiliadis says, adding the LVCVA has long platformed with booking platforms to dispose of rooms.
Commissioner Jim Gibson, whose district includes the City of Henderson, which allows short-term rentals, suggested the county reach out to its congressional delegation to explore options for seeking recourse against companies such as Expedia, Airbnb and VRBO, which collect fees for brokering vacation rentals.