Locals losing control of Airbnb-style rentals

By Katie Stancomb

 INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would prevent local governments from regulating short-term rental businesses passed out of the Senate Thursday.

House Bill 1133, which passed with a 27-20 vote, would keep municipalities from banning or over-regulating Airbnb-style rentals in their communities.

“The question I think everyone needs to ask themselves is, what does it mean when I own my home? What can I do with it,” said Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, questions Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, about a short-term rentals bill that would prevent local governments from regulating or banning Airbnb-style rentals in their communities. Photo by Zoie Richey.

Head said the bill gives homeowners more freedom to profit from their investment and maintain their rights.

In its current state, the legislation would allow local governments, cities and towns to regulate Airbnb-style rentals for violations including nuisance and transportation issues.

The controversy has revolved around who should have ultimate control over new rental platforms, local municipalities or larger state government.

In recent years, Airbnb-style rentals have exploded in cities like Fishers and Carmel, drawing attention to the fledgling business.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, voted no on the bill saying his Hamilton County constituents are sensitive to zoning laws and rely on them for protection.

“They want the rules that govern these things to be fairly strong so that they can have a house that does what they expect it’ll do,” Kenley said. “They also want their neighborhood to be what they expect it to be, and they want the value of that property to hold up if they move.”

The senator also said that he has had more constituents say they do not want the legislation to pass than those who do.

“In this case, where the state government is preempting this and taking away their local authority to control how this activity will be conducted, it’s a pretty negative blow to them,” he said.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, also opposed the bill.

“If you value the value of your personal property, then stand by Indiana’s zoning laws,” she said. “It’s a sort of social contract. We all agree we will give up some of our rights in order that our neighbors don’t go nuts.”

The bill will now move to a conference committee, where legislators from the House and Senate will meet to decide on a version of the bill acceptable to both chambers.

Katie Stancombe is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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