Dana Gentry/Nevada Current
An association representing vacation rental owners in Southern Nevada is asking a judge to bar the state and Clark County from enforcing what it says are unconstitutional regulations imposed on the industry last month so-called “Airbnb”, and to declare state and local laws unconstitutional.
A state law passed in 2021 required the county, which had largely turned a blind eye to the 10,000 to 12,000 short-term rentals (STRs) operating illegally in its jurisdiction, to impose regulations.
The county, under an order that took effect last month, is set to license 2,850 units, a fraction of those currently in operation.
The county is expected to begin accepting applications for six months. After that, a lottery will determine which applications will continue. Properties within 1,000 feet of a licensed property will not qualify, as will properties within 2,500 feet of a casino.
The Greater Las Vegas Short-Term Rental Association argues that government interference in a previously unregulated industry is haphazard and will rob landlords of the revenue potential of their properties.
The lawsuit was filed this week by Hutchison and Steffen, the law firm founded by former Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison.
Democratic Congresswoman Rochelle Nguyen, who has championed the state legislation, did not respond to a request for comment. Clark County declined to respond to ongoing litigation.
Opponents of STRs claim to have turned neighborhood houses into mini-hotels and exacerbated the area’s affordable housing crisis by raising prices and taking already scarce units off the market. Las Vegas is one of the most profitable markets for STR owners and a popular location for private and institutional investors.
The lawsuit says GLVSTRA, which has about 700 members, does not oppose the regulation or the fees and taxes that come with it. But he says the order exceeds “reasonable and permissible government regulation” under state and federal constitutions.
He alleges that the enforcement and enforcement provisions of the ordinance are arbitrary and capricious and violate the Due Process Clause of the Nevada Constitution, as well as the Amendments to the United States Constitution.
The ordinance requires applicants to submit a completed application just to be eligible for the lottery.
“Whether or not they get a license is up to luck,” the suit reads. “No qualifications. Not a timely application. Not a complete application. No compliance history. Not paying fees. These could be stellar, but an applicant could be randomly denied the opportunity to earn an income or use his own property.
He goes on to say that even those lucky enough to have their number drawn “would still be denied an application if, by any chance, a neighbor who lived within 1,000 feet of their home also received a license.”
The lawsuit says a 2,500-foot separation requirement between licensed properties and resort casinos is arbitrary, noting that this is more than double the 1,000-foot separation required between marijuana dispensaries. and resorts.
GLVSTRA alleges that the ordinance violates the taking clauses of state and federal constitutions because the regulation deprives owners of the economic benefits of their properties.
The new law, the suit says, also violates the privacy rights of occupants, whose outdoor activities could be monitored through required sound monitors at licensed properties, and by allowing regulators access to the properties.
“The total effect of these provisions is that Clark County – a government entity – will have unrestricted access to view all persons entering and exiting a home, what they do behind a fenced front or back yard, and, even more blatantly, can enter. home without cause or notice…,” the suit reads.
Similar lawsuits are unfolding across the country, particularly in tourist spots, as communities grapple with the debate over the right to house visitors in homes.
Last month, a Hawaiian association of STR owners filed a lawsuit to block a law restricting new vacation rentals on the island of Oahu.
Austin, Texas, which changed its ordinance in 2016 to grow into some 17,000 existing STRs, defied court orders to issue more permits.