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Henderson exploring rule changes for short-term vacation rentals

Updated July 8, 2019 - 6:54 pm

Henderson officials want to expand where short-term vacation rentals will be allowed to operate.

The City Council on Tuesday night took the first step toward considering new rules governing the rentals, which include properties listed through companies such as Airbnb, by approving a business impact statement and hearing the introduction of a pair of ordinances.

Under the proposed rule changes, rental units would be able to operate in residential areas and would have to register with the city and pay an $820 annual registration fee. City code currently allows such units only in commercial tourist zoning areas. The city estimates that more than 450 short-term rental units are operating without approval.

“You can turn a blind eye to it, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to go away,” Deputy City Manager Bristol Ellington said.

The push for expansion of short-term vacation rentals in Henderson contrasts with the policies of other Southern Nevada municipalities, which have been slow to embrace services such as Airbnb.

Late last year, Las Vegas voted to restrict the use of such properties, limiting new permits to owner-occupied homes. Rental units must have no more than three bedrooms and be at least 660 feet from any other short-term rental property.

North Las Vegas said it does not allow the rental properties. In unincorporated Clark County, such properties are illegal if they are rented for fewer than 30 days, according to the county’s website.

Under Henderson’s current system, property owners in a specific zoning area must pay $520 for conditional use permits and a further $300 to notify neighboring properties, city planner Eddie Dichter said. The new rule would not require a conditional use permit but would establish an annual $820 fee for registration.

Despite some residents’ concerns that the fee is too steep, city officials say they think it is necessary to cover the cost of staff review and enforcement of such a program, according to public records.

If the unauthorized rental units already in Henderson continued to operate under the new rules, the city estimates that it could pull in about $369,000 in revenue. The changes also would require renters to pay room tax, Ellington said.

Henderson wants to partner with a third-party company that can review rental websites and verify that property owners are following the rules, he said.

“They give us a mechanism for being able to enforce, which, right now, we have nothing unless somebody complains,” Ellington said.

If the new rules go into effect, homeowner associations will still get to decide whether the rentals will be allowed in their neighborhoods, Ellington said.

City officials planned to take the proposed change to the City Council earlier this year but decided to wait to see if the Legislature would address short-term rentals on the state level.

The new rules are scheduled to be taken up again during the council’s committee meeting on July 16 for discussion and public comment. The ordinances are scheduled to go up for possible final approval on the same night.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the month the ordinances would be up for final approval.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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