HB 253: Preventing Cities from Prohibiting Short-Term Rentals

This Bill passed the House 71-1 and the Senate 28-0.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Our Freest Cities Index revealed that many cities have ordinances that heavily restrict or completely ban short-term rentals—sharing your home for fewer than 30 days with a person for pay.

This action violates property rights in a very unreasonable fashion; allowing your Grandmother to stay with you for a few days is no different than allowing a traveler to do the same. The impact on neighbors is no different, and the property is not used any differently. There is no rational basis to prohibit one merely because money is exchanged.

Representative John Knotwell has sponsored House Bill 253 to address this issue in two ways. First, cities would be prohibited from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that prohibits a person from listing their home or offering a short-term rental on a website such as Airbnb or VRBO. This is a free speech issue; listing a home does not necessarily mean that a rental is actually taking place. But many cities merely peruse these websites and send out citations to property owners, rather than building a case to demonstrate that a rental actually took place in violation of the city’s ordinance. This would require a complaint-based process rather than using these websites as a proactive tool to crack down on those not causing any problems.

Second, the bill would prohibit cities from outlawing the rental of property on a short-term basis provided that it is owner-occupied. This means that so long as the owner is on the property as well (in another floor or room, for example), the rental would be allowed.

This bill does not deny cities the ability to regulate and license such rentals, but complete prohibitions would be disallowed if the bill were to pass.