Fox 17 Investigates: Airbnb permits in Nashville


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Short term rental properties are cashing in -- but one Music City resident is concerned with illegal AIRBNBs and catching them.

Nashville benefits from taxing registered hosts as the same rate as hotels and motels. Only 3 percent of a specific Davidson County area is allowed for short term rentals, but our investigation shows the actual amount of owners renting their homes is more than 3 times that.

Sites like AirBnB provide a good deal for travelers seeking alternatives to hotels nationwide.

"I Do like the short term rental, I use it everywhere I go," says a Hope Gardens resident of nearly a decade.

But lately he says.

"It seemed like every time a new house would turn into a short term rental: AirBNB specifically. You can actually make more renting short term I don't want to cause any issues in the neighborhood because it is a source of income for people."

That's why this resident who we'll call "Dave" doesn't want his face shown.

He does want others to know the price that he and others are paying city-wide with short term rental owners pushing the limit without a permit.

Dave says," I figured there would be one or two here or there that people would try to see if they can get away with it, . But to be a permanent listing getting rented out weekend after weekend after weekend. It's several times a week and I can't park on my street at all.

Along with parking, other issues also expand from Hope Gardens across Nashville, according to Metro Codes.

Assistant Director, Bill Penn, says, "The idea that you have every weekend a different group of people coming in, there are a lot of neighbors that find that disconcerting. They like to know who is living next door to them for peace of mind sake. That was why the regulation was put in place in order to have some control. "

Fox 17 looked into several Hope Gardens properties listed on the site and compared them to the permit list. There were 4 out 5 illegal short term rentals.

Dave says, "It shows there is about 78 rentals in this given area. It doesn't give you an exact address on there. I know a few houses because I see they have different people there every weekend and it is a short term rental and then I can go on Metro's website and see that they don't have a permit."

The zoning review administrator says when you turn in a request: a screen shot , web or physical address, connecting the home to the actual listing is key.

Penn adds, "We just aren't equipped to patrol all the different sites it could take hours to locate a property. Whereas neighbors who live in the area could very easily identify a property because they're familiar . "

Dave says," I have tried to notify them because I know they're short staffed. It's like the HOV lane, there's no consequences so people are going to drive in it."

In two years ago, metro short term rentals brought in more than a million and a half dollars in tax revenue.

"The permits thing is definitely a metro issue I don't see any reason why they shouldn't hire more examiners, plan reviewers," according to Dave.

Penn says, "We're booming now but in a year or two, things could change. We certainly don't want to bring in half a dozen new folks and then a year or two later you have to let them go. So it's a balancing act. Certainly, we could use a few more employees. Members of council are very sensitive to that along with the mayor."

In the meantime, Dave says," I can deal with it. It's when people don't follow those rules and go outside the law that I have an issue. "

Last month, Metro council began looking at a new ordinance giving the codes department more authority to shut down illegal rentals and increasing host violations ban from a year to three.

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