An ordinance to license, regulate and enforce violations of short-term rentals in unincorporated Clark County “exceeds the boundaries” of what’s allowed under the Nevada and U.S. Constitutions, a lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court alleges.
“There is no more sacred property under the laws of Nevada and those of the United States than one’s home,” attorneys for the Greater Las Vegas Short Term Rental Association wrote in court documents filed Tuesday. “This is intrinsically rooted in our history.”
The association, which represents about 1,200 members in Southern Nevada, more than 700 of them in Clark County, wrote in a news release that lawmakers have ignored its pleas, leaving it no choice but to seek court protection. They’ve sued Clark County and the state of Nevada — which legalized the practice of using homes for commercial lodging in 2021.
“It is our hope, through this action, that our State and local officials work with us in good faith to craft sensible and fair regulations that respect our civil rights and liberties, protect private property ownership, and end regulations that make criminals out of law-abiding citizens and further compound the economic hardship individuals and families are experiencing in Nevada,” the release said.
The lawsuit follows Clark County’s adoption of short-term rental rules in June, and comes less than a month before the application process for prospective renters is expected to go into effect.
State legalized rentals
A law passed during the 2021 legislative session reversed a county ban on short-term rentals starting on July 1. Regulated short-term rentals already are allowed in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas.
Spokespersons for Clark County and the Nevada attorney general said the agencies do not comment on pending litigation.
Before applying for a business license — a six-month window that opens on Sept. 1 — homeowners had to enter a “random number generator,” which functions like a lottery system run by a third-party, the county ruled when it laid the groundwork in June.
County lawmakers ruled that licenses for more than 1 percent of the “housing stock” would not be issued, a point of contention with the renter’s association, which alleged that 80 percent of homeowners who rent their property on services like Airbnb and Vrbo would be left out.
Jacqueline Flores, president and director of the short-term rental association, previously told the Review-Journal that the organization had been in constant touch with commissioners, and that it was surprised that the guidelines were even more strict than those outlined by the Nevada mandate.
Under the county-issued rules, applicants would have to pay fees, meet certain requirements and follow certain rules, such as allowing no parties, establishing minimum-stay requirements and capping the number of guests allowed. The ordinance also established enforcement plans, fees and consequences for violating the ordinance.
Commissioners estimated there were more than 10,000 properties illegally being rented in unincorporated Clark County, where rentals at mobile and manufactured homes, recreational vehicles, tents, and locations at Mt. Charleston, Moapa, Mesquite and Bunkerville would still be ineligible.
“To be clear, the Rental Association through this Petition is not opposed to regulation of the short-term rental home industry by Clark County or the State of Nevada,” attorneys wrote in the court documents. “Neither is it opposed to the assessment and imposition of all fees and taxes upon licensees and patrons of short-term rentals. It is also not inviting the judiciary to engage in a policy debate.”
However, it added, “no resident of Nevada or interstate or international traveler can be compelled under the law to live, do business, and have visitors in their own home under the arbitrary and oppressive licensing scheme set forth in the Ordinance,” the complaint said. “It goes too far. It is unconstitutional. It fails.”