Cal Sheehy

Cal Sheehy

For more than four years, Lake Havasu City officials have quarreled with short-term rental companies for residents’ peace of mind. Now, Mayor Cal Sheehy says steps are being taken in the right direction toward resolving the ongoing conflict.

According to Lake Havasu City tourism officials, Havasu was named Expedia’s “top-trending” destination of 2020. The city received a 25% boost in hotel tax revenues last summer, according to GoLakeHavasu, and short-term lodging is well-promoted by GoLakeHavasu for visitors to the Havasu area. But Sheehy says, companies like Expedia and Airbnb have also worked in opposition to citizens’ interests in years past.

Sheehy joined 31 Arizona mayors last month in signing a letter addressed to the CEOs of Airbnb and Expedia Group, asking the companies to end their support for a 2016 law that restricted the ability of cities and towns to regulate short-term rentals. On Thursday, Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern sent a letter of reply to each.

Kern expressed Expedia’s desire to work with communities such as Havasu in addressing bad actors, and has launched an initiative referred to as “Stay Neighborly.” The initiative provides educational resources on regulation, tax compliance and best practices for owners; and it establishes a “no tolerance” policy for owners and travelers who abuse their rental agreements.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction that we received a response to our letter,” Sheehy said Friday. “It’s a bigger step than when they were working in opposition to us. It shows that they’re willing to work collaboratively with us, rather than supporting a legislative policy that would benefit only them, while not being a benefit to our citizens.”

According to Kern’s letter, Expedia intends to improve its collaboration with local authorities for swifter action against problem listings. And those listings may have grown in Havasu since 2016, with the passage of SB 1350. The law, which was lobbied heavily by companies including Expedia Group and Airbnb, stymied local authorities’ regulatory authority over rental listings controlled by those companies.

“In 2014, the Lake Havasu City Council passed an ordinance that allowed us to properly manage complaints of noise, nuisance, parking, trash, and limit issues that impacted our neighborhoods,” Sheehy said.

Specifically, that ordinance required rental properties to be registered with the city, and provided a 24-hour contact, so that any issues could be resolved immediately.

“In 2016, that went away (with the passage of SB 1350),” Sheehy said Friday. “Now we don’t have the ability to manage these issues in a way citizens deserve. (Short-term rentals) have been in Havasu for decades, and we’ve always been able to manage it. We want to be able to find a favorable resolution so that these companies can coexist with our communities and meet their objectives.”

The mayors’ December letter to Expedia Group and Airbnb announced the continued opposition of Arizona cities and towns to SB 1350, and called the companies’ support for the law an “affront to every Arizona homeowner who aspires to the ‘American Dream’ of peaceful homeownership.”

“They’ve spent considerable time and money preempting cities and towns from being able to regulate short-term rental properties in our local communities, in a way that makes sense to our communities,” Sheehy said. “We’re working with legislators, and there is a bill working its way through the legislature that would bring back local control to cities and towns.”

Sheehy said he looks forward to collaborating with short-term rental industries, but he also intends to protect the interests of Havasu’s visitors and homeowners.

“Expedia wants to work with us to get to that resolution,” Sheehy said.

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(10) comments

Sandan

No, they are not all the same and be thankful if you don't live near any of them. If you do then you know the "check-in" process is at all times of the night, fireworks everynight all night and they could careless about someone else's neighborhood...or if some of the neighbors have to work in the morning. Just be thankful if your home isn't close to any of them.

Ripcord

The city is contemplating new taxes to cover costs. One idea, why not have the legal property owner pay for all police, fire and emergency services when called to these rental properties.

hvnfun

Short term vacation rentals compete against hotels but do not pay the same bed tax. They are able to rent a house with 4 bedrooms much cheaper then a hotel can rent 4 rooms because their is less service required and investment giving them an unfair advantage which is why you don't see many hotels being built these days robbing the city of valuable bed tax. The best way to increase revenue is to tax these short term rentals like a hotel, have them registered and taxed.

NorthLong

Could be an option for AZ.

Florida’s 6% state sales tax, plus any applicable discretionary sales surtax, applies to rental charges or

room rates paid for the right to use or occupy living quarters or sleeping or housekeeping

accommodations for rental periods six months or less, often called “transient rental accommodations”

or “transient rentals.” Some examples are hotel and motel rooms, condominium units, timeshare resort

units, single-family homes, apartments or units in multiple unit structures, mobile homes, beach or

vacation houses, campground sites, and trailer or RV parks.

azbeancounter

Don't know what the hotel tax rate is. But vrbo and airbnb collect a 10.5% state and local combination sales and bed tax from any renter whose rental term is under thirty days. Short-term rental owners do have to register with the state and file monthly returns to report the taxes collected.

NorthLong

We have several rental properties in our neighborhood and had very few problems with any of them. Our next door neighbor has rented her place for the winter to a couple from northern CA and we don't even know they are there.

Now on the other hand the party house and noise comes from the neighbor across the wash from us, who by the way is a LHC resident. But I feel they have every right to have a little fun on their property.

As for the ones that get out of hand, call the police. It boils down to what some of you consider out of hand.

1502

It would be a nightmare living next to these vacation homes.

619OG

It could be a nightmare if there are problems but not fair to group or assume they are all nightmares!

We have a small unit next door that hasnt caused us one nightmare!

ST

Expedia is a behemoth. Good job bending their ear. As neighbors of a roudy vacation rental (including trash, loud parties, drunken naked people screaming in the yard between my home and that home) I am hopeful that you can get SB1350 reversed. Put home is in. Residential Estates neighborhood, we work hard all week and all year to enjoy what little time we have off, and instead it’s a misery to be home because of the crowds next door which can have up to 15 cars at it. The owner doesn’t list through AirBnB or Expedia so we have no idea how to get help. They list it somewhere else privately. Many of the guests that they have are lovely, even large groups of people here to have fun. It’s the groups who trash our yard with their beer cans and scream day and night that we object to. We should be able to get local help.

Yup

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