Is Home Sharing A Headache For Residential Areas?

May 15, 2017

Credit fairfaxcounty.gov

As short-term rentals become more popular in the U.S. through apps such as Airbnb and VRBO, more communities have taken measures to regulate online home-sharing. 

Short-term renting is growing in Utah. According to data released by Airbnb, Utah hosts using their service earned over 35 million in supplemental income, bringing nearly a quarter million people to the state in 2016.

To support this trend, the Utah Legislature passed H.B. 253 in March which removed city and county restrictions on short-term lodging in owner-occupied homes located in residential areas; a move that has met mixed reactions.

Those who are opposed to the change worry that short-term renters are disruptive to surrounding householders and local governments need the power to respond. Scott Sabey, a concerned citizen, testified against the bill in a committee hearing. 

"The comment was made that there are no victims in this and there are and that's people that live around it," said Sabey. "Those people who surround these are the victims in the sense that the way that these are marketed is 'this is a nice home in a nice neighborhood -- in a quiet neighborhood.' They're capitalizing off their neighbors."

Dave Krauss, CEO of NoiseAware, a company that monitors noise in the short-term rentals industry, said his measurements suggest short-term renters aren’t widely disruptive.

"A small number of properties, fewer than 5 percent, ever have any sort of noise issue, but some within that 5 percent produce the vast majority," said Krauss. "This really comes down to an enforcement issue. In any city you're going to have noise issues, but there's been a major mischaracterization of the frequency of this problem."

The state's cities and counties still have the power to regulate home sharing outside of owner-occupied homes; either by direct restrictions or bans, or other means such as noise ordinances. H.B. 253's sponsor, Rep. John Knotwell, said he isn't sure how future legislation will address the short-term rental industry, however, he sees short-term rentals as beneficial to state business.

"There’s definitely an economic benefit, many travelers prefer to use a short-term rental type accommodation rather than a hotel," said Rep. Knotwell. "There’s definitely a need for it in Utah and we have a place where people want to come."