LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Changes could be coming for short-term rentals on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO in Louisville.

Over the past several years, short-term rentals have become increasingly popular, but now new applications are on hold. 

Metro Council's Planning and Zoning Committee passed an ordinance that would temporarily halt new applications for short-term rentals. The proposed moratorium started last month as a measure that would affect only certain near-downtown neighborhoods: Phoenix Hill, Butchertown and Clifton Heights. But it will likely expand to entire council districts depending on the preferences of each council member. Metro Council still needs to approve any changes.

"We've learned a lot about what is working and what is not working with our current short-term rental policies, and so we're in the midst of a really comprehensive and thorough review of those policies," Metro Council member Ben Reno-Weber, D-8, said.

Councilmembers said they've seen some commercial investors come in from out of town buying up properties for the sole purpose of renting it out.

"Some of my constituents have sent me pictures of six Lime scooters scattered across a street, reported interactions where someone was urinating in the neighbors' yard," Reno-Weber said.

A little more than 1,000 residences in Jefferson County are registered as short-term rentals, with about two-thirds of the registrations indicating that the house or apartment unit isn’t occupied by the host of the listing — the person who owns or rents the unit.

“Airbnb recently met with Louisville Metro City Council members to discuss how home sharing supports residents and the local economy, and to share our concerns with the proposed moratorium which we believe is not necessary given the ongoing work on new short-term rental rules," Airbnb said in a statement. "The moratorium ultimately takes time away from city staff members who are working to develop new rules. We look forward to continuing to work with the Metro City Council and the Planning and Zoning department over the summer as they work to update existing rules to allow residents to benefit from the local tourism economy.” 

According to Airbnb, entire home listings represented less than 1% of housing stock in Louisville last year, and a typical median host shares their home about 70 nights per year. Airbnb said a Louisville host earned around $13,500 in 2022 after all taxes and fees. 

Louisville first adopted rules around short-term rentals in 2015. In 2019, Metro Council overhauled the rules, introducing a distinction between homes that are occupied by the person who hosts the short-term rental and those that — like hotel rooms — are not someone’s full-time home.

Reno-Weber represents District 8, which covers the Highlands. He said a vast majority of short-term rentals are homeowners trying to get some supplemental income.

The new ordinance is trying to keep it that way and weed out what he calls bad actors.

"Bought the property, posted it, first illegally, then took it down, is advertising that they have a speakeasy in the basement that they hid from the inspector, then took that down, took the neighbors on a tour, lied to them about what was going on," said Reno-Weber. "That is the sort of actor we don't want in the space."

Part of the proposal is to get someone whose job is to keep track of these rentals to make sure they are legally allowed to rent. It would increase the registration and make sure there aren't too many of them in a residential area.

Currently, there isn't one allowed within 600 feet of another one.

Reno-Weber said the moratorium is only in place until they can get public comment and adjust the ordinances surrounding short-term rentals.

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