By Adrianna Pitrelli
INDIANAPOLIS — Proposed legislation to control how local communities can regulate Airbnbs was put on hold Wednesday by the Interim Study Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.
“The primary objective of this is a person’s homestead deserves protection and that person’s property rights deserve protection,” said Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper.
It comes after House Bill 1133 failed in the spring. The proposed legislation would have eliminated local bans on short-term rentals and the owners of rental property would have been required to hold liability insurance for third-party claims.
The committee drafted a proposal which would have put restrictions on Airbnbs. But some committee members worried the proposal wouldn’t give local communities enough power to make decisions, which helped derail the proposed draft.
“To pass a law that restricts every community, that’s why we have home rule so local communities can make the rules,” Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said. “There are some communities where locals may have a proper reason that they need to control these matters.”
But more than a half dozen Airbnb hosts testified in support of short-term rentals, saying they have positive impacts on the economy and allow for more people to visit the state.
However, concerns were raised that the renters would take advantage of the homes by hosting noisy parties, turning them into “animal houses.” Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, asked each person who testified about the number of complaints they’ve received about their clients.
“I was somewhat surprised about how many people never had complaints,” Morris said. “Every person said there were no police reports and there wasn’t any form of an animal house setting.”
In the case of an issue regarding trash, noise or parking violations, residents who live around the short-term rentals would be able to call law enforcement, so the committee didn’t find it necessary to put rules about those situations into their draft.
Messmer said because not everyone on the committee was present, the committee may reconvene at a later date to discuss the proposal and possibly vote.
Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.