Knoxville city leaders looking to add guidelines to short term rentals

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville city officials are looking to pass an ordinance that’ll make short term rentals, like Airbnbs, legal. However, by doing that, rules and taxes would follow. Right now, short term rentals are illegal in Knoxville.

A few years ago, an opportunity opened for Natalie Nordstrom. She listed a Knoxville duplex  on Airbnb to make a little extra cash. She said she had bookings within two days of listing it.

“I’d just loved getting to meet people from all over the area and not just our area but the world and introducing them to our area,” said Nordstrom.

Others love doing this too. Hundreds of Airbnb rentals are available in Knoxville. This became Natalie’s passion. She decided to leave her current job to devote more time to this.

“I definitely think Airbnb is our American Dream,” she said.

However, she was nervous that dream won’t last. Bill Lyons, Deputy to the Knoxville Mayor, and other city officials plan to make guidelines for short term rentals after hearing concerns from neighbors.

“We are trying to stay ahead of the curve and not get in a situation,” Lyons said.

He said neighbors have complained about parties on the weekends at short term rentals. To help, Lyons said the city is looking only allow Airbnb hosts to rent their primary home.

“That’s something we are looking seriously at,” he said.

“It would be a loss of my job. It would feel like the city of Knoxville fired me,” said Nordstrom.

Nordstrom believed this idea wouldn’t allow her to continue her passion. She said she and her husband will lose more income than her husband makes in his full-time job as a government worker.

Right now, these are just ideas. City officials think regulations need to be made soon.

Natalie believes the new regulations would stop her from pursuing her passion.

“We are looking to craft an ordinance that hits the sweet spot, that’s best for neighborhoods and best for Airbnb operators,” said Lyons.

Lyons also said the city is looking to have Airbnb hosts collect sales taxes, just like hotels and motels do. He said that will help keep a level playing field.Knoxville officials plan to present their ideas in a public meeting next Tuesday at 6PM at Central United Methodist Church. Once there is a proposed ordinance, it’ll then go to the city council for a vote.

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