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Scottsdale rental owners to be held accountable with new ordinance

Any person assigned as an emergency contact must respond in person within an hour to the property if a disturbance or emergency occurs, the city council said.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A new Scottsdale ordinance is set to make sure short-term and vacation rental owners are held accountable for what happens at their properties.

Scottsdale's city council unanimously approved updates to local ordinances that will require vacation and short-term rental property owners to provide an emergency contact to the city and increase monetary penalties. The measure is set to go into effect this Friday.

Any person assigned as an emergency contact must respond in person within an hour to the physical location of the property if a disturbance or emergency occurs.

“This will really help to facilitate that there’s an actual contact for the police to talk to,” said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Kevin Quon. “If it rises to a level of a notice of violation, we can issue that to them, which will them go to a different department of the city to deal with.”

If that assigned person doesn’t respond, they face a civil offense and be fined $500. If the emergency contact doesn’t arrive within an hour a $250 fine can be imposed.

In the past, officers would issue violation notices for nuisance parties that involved big parties, loud noise, and unruly people, but soon they will have the authority to issue civil penalties on site.

RELATED: Airbnb suspends 70 homes in Arizona for violating COVID-19 party policies

The owner of a home with a nuisance party can get a minimum $750 fine on the first offense, to upwards of $2,500 for a fourth offense.

“To respect your neighbors, that’s really our big thing,” said Quon. “We just really want everybody to be cordial and be peaceful because it is residential neighborhoods that they are going into”

The city estimates there are now more than 4,000 rental properties in its neighborhoods.

With big events like the Phoenix Open happening soon, Quon says the Scottsdale Police Department will be ready to address disturbances that could arise.

“We just want them to enjoy themselves while still respecting the neighborly field that we go to expect in Scottsdale,” he said.

Ongoing issues with short-term rental properties in Scottsdale

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, according to Brent Stockwell, Scottsdale’s Assistant City Manager.

Since that legislation took effect, Stockwell said residents have repeatedly asked the city to help mitigate the negative effects of vacation homes.

In 2021, the city formed a Short-Term Rental Working Group to further explore concerns residents had and offer potential solutions, primarily focused on improving monitoring and enforcement of rules that are allowed under state law, the statement said.

The working group made nine recommendations that the City County adopted in July:

  • Improve enforcement against properties who regularly violate the ordinances.
  • Work with the short-term rental industry to increase properties providing emergency contacts and improve voluntary compliance and ensure input from the industry is received prior to implementing any recommendations.
  • Use technology to identify and increase emergency contacts and compliance from short-term rentals.
  • Ensure Scottsdale is collecting all allowable revenue from short-term rentals and analyze whether fines could be increased.
  • Evaluate whether Scottsdale's ordinances (Vacation Rental, Nuisance Party and Unlawful Gathering, and Noise Ordinances) could be strengthened to eliminate loopholes and improve ability to enforce.
  • Improve information and resources shared by the city to help inform residents about what the city can and cannot do with short-term rentals and make it easier for people to contact the property managers/hosts when there are problems.
  • Assist neighborhoods, including homeowners' associations, with information and resources on how to manage short-term rentals.
  • Improve education about short-term rental best practices for residents, owners, and hosts.
  • Share information with the State of Arizona about how the City of Scottsdale is using the powers available to cities, and advocate for necessary changes to State Law to return needed short-term rental oversight to the City of Scottsdale.

The city said efforts to alleviate short-term vacation rental complaints began in 2019.

RELATED: Airbnb cracking down on 'party houses' in Arizona

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