Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Continuing complaints about nuisance “party houses” disrupting Las Vegas neighborhoods could lead to an outright ban on short-term rentals in the city.
Since 2008, the city has allowed homes to be rented for a weekend or a week at a time, so long as the owner applied for a temporary permit. Often these homes rent to large groups of visitors who don’t want to stay in separate hotel rooms and cause no problem.
But in enough cases to draw the attention of the City Council, these homes turn into party houses where all-night revelry draws the scorn of neighbors.
Tales of fireworks in the middle of the night, streets filled with idling taxis and buses, and signs of prostitution were shared last month by residents during a council hearing on the issue.
The council was considering a new ordinance that would have tightened regulations on short-term rentals and required owners to pay a $500 annual licensing fee. Now, some council members are looking for stricter rules or possibly banning short-term rentals.
“I don’t think we should have any short-term rentals in the city,” Councilman Stavros Anthony said at the September meeting. “I wouldn’t want one of these next to my house.”
Clark County also has struggled with party houses despite a ban on residential rentals of less than 31 days. Henderson only allows short-term rentals at Lake Las Vegas, while North Las Vegas code does not address them.
Enforcing bans or regulations on short-term rentals is difficult because many of the violations occur on weekends when municipal code enforcement officers don’t work.
Las Vegas has issued about 100 short-term rental permits over the past two years. The permits range in length — one covers an entire year — and went mostly to a group of 10 homes that were frequently leased.
Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said she thinks there are many more homes being rented out short term in Las Vegas that are ignoring the city’s regulations, which is why she introduced the ordinance imposing the licensing requirement.
“It didn’t seem to solve the problem. The rentals were just as bad if not worse,” Tarkanian said of the current system. “We let it go and it got bad, especially in older areas of town with big homes and big lots.”
In addition to the licensing requirement, Tarkanian’s ordinance also includes a sliding occupancy limit, capping out at 12 overnight guests, and requirements that no vehicles associated with the rental be parked on neighborhood streets and that owners must display a placard with their contact information at the property.
If the ordinance is adopted, any violations would be punishable as a misdemeanor with six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Tarkanian, who gets at least one call a month reporting a new party house, admits she’s worried the ordinance will be tough to enforce.
“You have to have the manpower to do it right, and we don’t have that,” she said.
The council’s recommending committee will reconsider Tarkanian’s ordinance at its Tuesday meeting after the full council rejected it earlier this month for not being strict enough.
Tarkanian expects her bill to be scrapped, but it won’t mean the end to tightening the rules.
“I think they’ll ask for a tougher one than even I wrote,” she said. “The council members that are here now are getting some of the problem themselves and understand they have to do something.”