By Brent Stockwell, Assistant City Manager of Scottsdale
The Scottsdale City Council recently voted unanimously in favor of two proposed updates to the city’s Vacation Rental ordinance and Nuisance Parties and Unlawful Gatherings. The updates to both ordinances, which takes effect January 7, will remove loopholes, increase fines, and improve the city’s enforcement abilities when handling short-term vacation rental complaints.
A 2016 state law restricting cities and towns from regulating vacation and short-term rental properties removed a Scottsdale law that prohibited rentals of 30 days or fewer. Since that legislation took effect, residents have repeatedly asked the city to help mitigate the negative effects of these rental properties – now estimated to number more than 4,000 in Scottsdale.
In 2020, the city formed a Short-Term Rental Working Group to further explore these issues and offer potential solutions, primarily focused on improving monitoring and enforcement of rules that are allowed under state law. The working group made nine recommendations that the City Council adopted last summer.
Among the recommendations were changes to state law that would strengthen local authority over short-term rentals. These changes are outlined in a letter to state legislators from the Scottsdale Mayor and City Council.
Besides amending state law and strengthening city ordinances, other working group recommendations that are moving forward include increasing enforcement, improving communication, and providing educational opportunities to both residents and short-term rental owners and hosts.
Scottsdale’s efforts to alleviate short-term vacation rental complaints began in 2019
In fall 2019, the Scottsdale City Council amended an existing city code requiring owners of short-term or vacation rentals to provide emergency and complaint contact information. The amendment also emphasizes that these rentals may not be used for non-residential purposes such as restaurants or event centers.
Additionally, the City Council adopted a citywide Nuisance Parties and Unlawful Gatherings ordinance that makes it easier to hold property owners accountable for repeated unruly gatherings or parties. This ordinance applies to all private residences whether they are long- or short-term rentals, or owner occupied.
While the two ordinances brought some relief, the working group recommended that these city ordinances be strengthened to better protect neighborhoods.
Property owners are required to register with the state, county and city
Every vacation or short-term rental property in the state is required to have a Transaction Privilege Sales Tax license from the State of Arizona Department of Revenue. Additionally, all rental units in Scottsdale are required to register those units with the Maricopa County Assessor per Arizona Revised Statute 33-1902.
Owners of vacation and short-term rentals in Scottsdale are also required to provide the city with complaint/emergency contact information for each property, in accordance with Scottsdale City Code Section 18-150. Additionally, any person designated as a vacation or short-term rental’s emergency contact must respond in-person to the property within one hour of the city’s notification in the event of an emergency.
Resources and information
Scottsdale’s vacation and short-term rentals page provides resources and information for neighborhoods and property owners to help everyone understand the rules, comply with registration requirements, and get help when needed. Scottsdale also developed a useful online course as part of its Neighborhood College series for residents to understand how to address short-term rentals in their neighborhoods. Both can be accessed at ScottsdaleAZ.gov.