Knoxville home owners looking to make a profit through short-term rentals could face more regulations in the future.
A new ordinance the city of Knoxville is working to craft would require those hosts to have a permit and business license in order to rent their home or commercial property for fewer than 31 days.
For some operators this is a step in the right direction, but business leaders are more concerned about state legislation that could negatively impact neighborhoods.
Pigeon Forge City Commissioner Ken Maples operates the Comfort Inn on the Parkway. He says they offer a few things an Airbnb can't.
He's not against the short term rentals, but does want to see them regulated.
"We don't mind the competition, we just want a fair and level playing field,” explained Maples.
He believes measures like the one Knoxville is considering is good for everyone involved.
"Contrary to popular belief it is a commercial venture, therefore you should have a business license, you should be insured, and inspected just like hotels are,” Maples said.
A draft ordinance released by the city aims to make short term rental owners get a business license, pay taxes and fees like a hotel and keep owners from operating homes in residential neighborhoods that they aren't living in.
The city is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. to hear feedback on the draft ordinance. Comments and questions about the ordinance can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Cohen of Cohen Communications is an Airbnb host. He believes this proposal does a good job managing the city's major interests: neighborhoods, tourists, and technology.
"I think they've tried to balance all that and I think they've done a good job,” said Cohen.
That desire to protect neighborhoods is a concern for hosts blocked from renting properties they own, but don't live in.
"The biggest concern is why does it have to be owner occupied, why can't I own three places in a residential neighborhood and rent them as Airbnb?" Cohen said.
Back in Pigeon Forge, Maples is concerned about bills in the Tennessee legislature, House Bill 1020 and Senate Bill 1086 that could allow more rentals in residential zones.
"They would have a zoning advantage there where the hotels have to operate in a certain zone,” Maples said.
The short term rental bills are set to go before the state local government committee in early April.
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