KNOXVILLE - The city of Knoxville is handing out code violations to some of the people illegally running short-term rentals.
Renter Michael Ryion couldn't figure out why he got a notice while other Airbnb properties didn't.
"I don't see anything that says that we've got a complaint against you," said Ryion.
Ryion has been renting his property in East Knoxville on Airbnb for more than a year.
But last week he received a notice of violation from the city saying he had to shut it down because it violated zoning ordinances.
If he doesn't close shop, he could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Plans Review and Inspections Director Peter Ahrens says that's how they've always handled these situations.
"Every time we get a complaint through (phone service) 3-1-1 we follow up, we make sure that it's a valid complaint," said Ahrens. "We're not proactively pursuing all short-term rental folks, but anytime we do get a complaint, we'll follow up. We'll look at the various short-term rental websites and try to match up the descriptions and locations within the city."
They've had to send about a dozen notices. Ahrens said there are 300 to 400 Airbnb hosts in Knoxville with an average of 5,000 annual nightly stays.
"The information that we get is there's an illegal business being run in a neighborhood," said Ahrens. "We haven't had any complaints about noise or trash or poor behavior."
Right now, short-term rental properties like Ryion's are illegal in Knoxville.
"Under the current zoning ordinance, the closest thing we can assimilate a short-term rental to is a motel or a hotel, which are not permitted in residential neighborhoods," said Ahrens.
Ryion hopes City Council can change the ordinance to benefit everyone. Council has been debating what to do for months.
"Now, there's really no avenue to charge the hotel tax or the taxes we're supposed to charge for overnight rentaI," said Ryion. "I think that would be good income for the city."
Ryion says he plans to take legal action if council doesn't decide on an ordinance after his four months are up.
Airbnb hosts earned nearly $8 million in supplemental income last year, which Ryion says helps the economy.
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