Chandler Council introduces new short-term rental regs - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Council introduces new short-term rental regs

September 24th, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Council introduces new short-term rental regs

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler City Council has introduced new regulations intended to help the city better keep track of short-term rental properties that turn into troublesome “party houses.”

On Sept. 17, Council unanimously passed an ordinance that tentatively amends the city’s codes to make Chandler’s rental properties more accountable to the government.

Owners of local short-term rentals, which are homes typically rented out through websites like AirBnb and Vrbo, will have to register with the city by providing the owner’s contact information and require owners to obtain a tax license through the state Department of Revenue.

A property owner will be obligated to respond within one hour to any inquiries from the city regarding a nuisance complaint made against their rental or its occupants.

The codes further prohibit these properties from hosting any nonresidential activities that “disturb the peace and enjoyment of neighboring properties.”

Short-term rentals cannot operate as any type of commercial business, event center, sober living home, adult-oriented business, nor house sex offenders.

Council appeared satisfied with the level of accountability outlined in the rental codes and hoped they would better empower Chandler’s neighborhoods to resolve issues before they turn into nuisances.

“I think this ordinance, in the way that it was set up, will do some great things to help move the needle and give the homeowner associations and owners in those neighborhoods some ability to do some things,” said Councilman Mark Stewart.    

Arizona’s short-term rental industry has been heavily scrutinized in recent years due to complaints from residents across the Valley about homes that become a revolving door for rowdy, noisy partygoers.

Police departments in various cities have reported responding to altercations at short-term rentals that have turned violent or even deadly. A 26-year-old man was killed at an AirBnb rental in Chandler last summer after an argument broke out during a party.

The Legislature passed a law last year that offered municipalities some leeway in regulating disruptive short-term rentals and Chandler’s new code regulations were written to conform with the changes.

Violators of the Chandler’s new codes could be fined with $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense, and $1,500 for a third offense committed within a one-year period.

A property owner who commits more than three violations within a 24-month span could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor offense.

The topic of short-term rentals seems to be popular among Chandler residents since the city received more than 150 comments over the last couple months regarding its new code regulations.

According to city documents, a majority of commenters supported the code amendments and some felt the new rules weren’t strict enough and needed harsher penalties. The city’s restricted by state law with how regulatory it wishes to be in regard to short-term rentals.

Councilman Matt Orlando welcomed the additional layer of accountability for property owners and hopes the code amendments offer some ease to concerned neighbors.

He said he knows of at least two short-term rentals located within his own neighborhood and has had both good and bad experiences with the homeowners.

One owner is responsible and responsive, Orlando said, but the other has drawn several complaints that required visits by police.

The city’s codes seem balanced enough to manage the properties in need of some regulation, Orlando added, while still allowing police officers and code inspectors some latitude on how and when to enforce the rules.

“I think this is a fair ordinance that will help us educate, but then again have a little teeth in it for those bad actors,” he said.

The registration system put in place by the code amendments could additionally help the city count how much tax revenue is being generated locally by Chandler’s rental homes.

Dawn Lang, the city’s management services director, said Chandler currently can’t be sure how much in taxes is being collected from short-term rentals because the city has never had a formal database listing all of these properties.

“I think with this mechanism in place, we’ll be able to better track from a revenue standpoint,” she said.

Council must vote on the ordinance again in October. If approved, the new code regulations will go into effect 30 days after the council’s second vote.