Phoenix residents have a new tool to put the kibosh on horseplay and noise at neighboring short term vacation rentals.
The city unveiled an online portal today that allows anyone to search an address of a short term rental to find the responsible person or company in charge of it, plus contact information for emergencies and complaints. Previously, the information was difficult or impossible to obtain by frustrated neighbors who often resort to calling the police as a first option when vacationers go wild.
The portal also makes it easy for property owners to register their short term rentals and list a manager.
Click here to access the new short term rental portal.
Short term rentals using Airbnb, VRBO, and other services have been regulated across the country, but not as much in Arizona, where state law prevents cities from enacting ordinances that are stiffer than state laws. That has frustrated some Democratic lawmakers who would like to see the preemption law repealed, and who want to limit the number of short term rentals that could be allowed in some areas because they tend to drive up housing costs.
Because of party-related problems, the Legislature passed a new law in 2019 that allows cities to fine property owners for violating city and state laws, bans events from the properties that would normally require permits (like weddings), and paved the way for the city's registration requirement, which was approved in early 2020. Airbnb and VRBO both opposed the requirement.
Prior to the Legislature's decision last year, the city had no database. Short term rentals have always had to register with the county for tax obligations, and basic information about the property owner could be found by checking the county assessor's website. With the city's new website, it should be a snap to find out who's responsible for that loud music at 2 a.m., or whatever the problem is.
The phone numbers listed by the property owner in their registration forms have to be good ones, too. The city ordinance requires that if a police officer calls or texts the contact info, someone must be on the property or be available by phone or text within 60 minutes.
But the new system isn't perfect — the property owner has to register. Last month, following a shooting at a party being held at a short term rental in Phoenix, an investigation found that the property owner had not registered with Phoenix as required.
Of course, if you believe a short term rental near you has not registered, you could complain to the city. Fines for violating the city ordinance start at $500 for a first offense.
"This is very convenient and helpful for folks," said Thomas Galvin, an attorney with Rose Law Group who's worked on short term rental cases. "You better have a phone number in there," he warned property owners.