NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Senate on Thursday passed a bill that overturns some local short-term rental bans after lawmakers debated for more than two hours about property rights versus local control.
Lawmakers from Nashville were the most vocal against the bill. The city recently passed restrictions on short-term rentals such as Airbnb after neighborhood groups complained about noise and rowdy parties at the rentals and their rapid growth changing the fabrics of communities. Nashville passed an ordinance earlier this year that would phase out short-term rentals of non-owner-occupied properties, which have generated the most complaints from neighbors.
The measure that passed Thursday was a compromise allowing investors in short-term rental properties to keep renting them out and be grandfathered in if a local government bans them in the future. That would mean that Nashville and any other local government in Tennessee could put restrictions on the short-term rentals going forward but would have to grandfather rights to those operating legally before the restrictions were enacted.
One of the main sponsors of the measure said it was an attempt to protect the property rights of people who had already purchased homes being used for short-term rentals.
“This bill is about property rights and justice,” said Sen. John Stevens, a Republican from Huntingdon.
But other lawmakers wondered about the property rights of longtime neighbors who opposed the rentals.
Airbnb lobbied state lawmakers intensely after Nashville passed the ordinance limiting the short-term rentals.
One Nashville Republican took aim at Airbnb, the San Francisco-based company that uses an online platform to help travelers all over the world find short-term housing rentals.
“This comes down to a national company —Airbnb— trying to come in and jack up their stock price,” Sen. Steve Dickerson said.
The AP emailed the company, but a spokesman responded by saying Airbnb would not comment on the vote or the debate.
The bill would have originally allowed grandfathered properties to continue as short-term rentals even after they were sold or the owners died. But an amendment by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixon, terminates that right under the sale of the property and under other conditions.
The House passed a similar bill last year but still has to approve changes made by the Senate.