Henderson approves short-term rentals, promises enforcement

no pitchforks tho
Short-term rental policy attracted a crowd to the Henderson City Council meeting July 16. (Photo: Dana Gentry).
no pitchforks tho
Short-term rental policy attracted a crowd to the Henderson City Council meeting July 16. (Photo: Dana Gentry).

Until now, local governments, which are partially dependent on tax revenue generated by tourists who sleep in hotels, have been at a loss on how to rein in the disruption behemoth that is Airbnb. 

Efforts to license short-term rental operators have failed, largely for lack of an effective means of tracking those who fail to become compliant. Enforcement costs have proved staggering to cash-strapped governments. 

Despite warnings of hedge fund operators gobbling up homes at top dollar and forcing residents out of the home buying market, the City of Henderson voted Tuesday night to license short-term rentals. Property owners will be required to pay $820 a year for the privilege. 

“In my mind, this has nothing to do with money for the city, but everything to do with enforcing,” said Councilman Dan Stewart, who noted that 70 to 75 percent of properties in Henderson are governed under rules established by homeowners’ associations.  “This will help the HOAs identify STRs in their communities. And we’ll have enforcement go in and cease.” 

But one gated community resident, John Alderfer, told council members his neighborhood “had already been through this nightmare,” noting his HOA rules were ineffective in running off unruly renters.

Henderson officials are hoping to tame the lodging disruption beast via a licensing and regulatory scheme. The city hopes to succeed where other municipalities have failed. Officials intend to hire a compliance vendor to ensure unlicensed operators are identified and sanctioned. 

“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.  “There’s one that has a couple hundred cities they are working with.”

One potential vendor, Host Compliance, says it identified 613 web listings for 422 short-term rental properties in Henderson that are advertised on-line.

The city is promising a robust enforcement effort with hefty fines designed to offset the cost. 

Under the new ordinance, each operator of an unregistered property will be assessed $500 a day it is rented.  Holding prohibited events such as parties or weddings will bring a $500 a day penalty. Operating after a license has been suspended is also punishable by $500 a day. 

But is compliance software successful in tracking down offenders?  

AirDNA, a data service that analyzes Airbnb listings, wrote in November 2017 that 365 cities around the world have some form of licensing. Yet only three cities have managed to license the majority of properties in their jurisdictions 

According to AirDNA, Denver budgeted more than $70,000 a year toward host compliance software, which “has failed to deliver” on the promise of identifying unlicensed operators. 

Airbnb’s growth has slowed, but not stalled, in the face of increased regulation. In April, Forbes reported Airbnb valued itself at $38 billion in preparation for its initial public offering. 

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 is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, a property owner has the right to USE their property how they wish.

    Also, if the shortest legal rental term is ONE WEEK, you don’t need to worry. These renters DON’T PARTY. These are usually Business people or family groups. PARTY HOUSES rent out for 1 night stays, which is NOT allowed under this new ordinance.

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