Bill seeks to curb cities’ control over short-term rentals
Homeowners would be free to rent spare room, avoid local oversight
February 15, 2017
A bill making its way through the Utah Legislature would allow homeowners to rent a spare bedroom on a short-term basis — regardless of local zoning rules.
House Bill 253, sponsored by Rep. John Knotwell, a Republican from Herriman, would prevent cities and counties from "enacting or enforcing an ordinance that prohibits an individual from listing a short term rental on a short term rental website."
The bill is a less dramatic version of the one Knotwell introduced last year that raised the hackles of municipal and lodging entities around the state. That bill would have placed a moratorium on all municipal restrictions regarding short-term rentals but he shelved the proposal amid vigorous opposition.
The current version, approved in committee on Tuesday by a vote of 13 to 1, requires that the owner of the property must also occupy the site during the term of the rental.
In Park City, short-term rentals, commonly referred to as nightly rentals, are currently not allowed in large portions of the Prospector, Park Meadows and Thaynes Canyon neighborhoods.
In areas where they are allowed, City hall requires the property owner to obtain a business license and the unit be inspected for safety.
According to Assistant Park City Manager Matt Dias, officials have been working closely with Knotwell to convey their concerns.
Dias said the local ordinances that currently regulate short-term rentals are the result of extensive public input from the neighborhoods themselves.
"We feel our zoning reflects what the people in those areas want," he said, adding that allowing short-term rentals requires a higher level of infrastructure, including parking and transit.
In a broader sense, Dias said, nightly rentals can adversely impact the community's already strapped affordable housing base. Expanding the number of short-term rental opportunities in a popular resort town can lead to homeowners putting their properties online at a higher rate rather than offering them as seasonal rentals to employees.
They can also be detrimental to neighborhoods because properties may sit vacant for lengthy periods because the owners want to reserve them for more lucrative rates during the high season instead of renting them on a long-term basis.
The bill will next move to the full House for debate.
In the past, nightly-rental restrictions in Park City have been hotly debated at local public hearings, but Dias said the city is concerned that residents may not be aware of the discussion currently taking place at the state level.
To follow the House Bill 253's progress go to: http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0253.html