The Omaha World-Herald reported recently that “Nebraska lawmakers joined a national debate in April about regulating Airbnb and other home-based, short-term rentals.
“At issue was Legislative Bill 628, which would block local ordinances or regulations that target such rentals.
“Airbnb and similar online booking apps connect travelers with people willing to rent out a room or a whole house.
“State Sen. Tyson Larson of Bloomfield said the bill is modeled after a 2016 Arizona law pushed by the Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute is a Phoenix-based group advocating limited government.
LB 628 ensures no overstep by local governments,” he said.
“Larson said he doesn’t know of any problem regulations in Nebraska now. He said such rules have been popping up around the country, to the detriment of what has been called the “sharing economy.”
Sen. Tyson is right. In nearby Kansas City, a bill has been proposed in the city and will be taken up in August, The bill will regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb, VRBO, and others.
Local hoteliers and traditional bed-and-breakfast proprietors want to see the playing field leveled. Southmoreland on the Plaza innkeeper Mark Reichle said, “I’ve been in business 27 years, generating and paying money to the city. These entities [STRs] are operating as a business also. They should be paying all relevant federal taxes, local sales taxes, state sales taxes, lodging taxes. And they should have to adhere to the same fire safety, alcohol-use, food and zoning codes as well.”
Many real estate investors bought long-term rentals and converted the property to STRs. They avoid the regulations of the hotel industry and accelerate dire housing shortages. In effect, they are cutting supply for residents, driving up prices and turning properties once counted as long-term housing stock for locals into miniature hotels for out-of-towners.
It is a cautionary story for many who have been buying properties and converting them to short-term rentals. Someday soon, Omaha may regulate the industry.
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