Residents weigh pros and cons of short-term rentals at city workshop

Aug. 10, 2017: The debate continues as Knoxville leaders try to figure out how to handle short-term rentals.

KNOXVILLE - Knoxville residents got to share their opinions about short-term rentals at a public workshop Thursday night.

According to a city draft ordinance, short-term rental means renting a property for fewer than 31 days.

This spring, the city proposed an ordinance that would require short-term rental owners to get a permit, pay taxes and fees like hotels and only rent out a property in which the owner lives.   

At the workshop, people were divided into small groups to discuss the benefits and concerns.

Groups logged the benefits of short-term as a way to bring in tourism, a source of income and a way to exercise property rights.

“You’re getting tourism money into all areas of the community that sometimes wouldn’t benefit from it otherwise,” said Melanie McCoy, a short-term rental host.

People at the workshop brought up various concerns, such as short-term rentals violate zoning ordinances. People wonder whether the rentals will affect property values, how they will be regulated and what effect brining strangers into the neighborhood will have.

“When you take a house out of being a residence, you’re really creating a hole in the neighborhood because we work really hard to knit our social fabric,” said Bill Murrah, a 45-year resident of the Fourth and Gill neighborhood.

City leaders have looked to other nearby cities to see how they are handling short term rental properties.

City Attorney Robert Frost says Asheville is in litigation, and Chattanooga and Nashville have rules.

“In Chattanooga a short-term rental needs to be located in a geographically defined area,” Frost said. “In Nashville, they are limiting the number of non-owner occupied short-term rentals to three percent in each census tract.” 

City leaders say there are about 300 short term rental properties in Knoxville, and there are about 8,000 nightly rentals per year. So far they say they have received about five complaints.

The city says it responds to complaints as they come in.

The proposed ordinance will first go to the Metropolitan Planning Commission and then to the City Council in November.

City leaders say if an ordinance is established regulating short term rentals, home owner associations and contracts may still be able to restrict rentals.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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