Many Scottsdale Airbnbs, Vrbos still not licensed, despite deadline – The Arizona Republic

Thousands of short-term vacation rental properties in Scottsdale could soon incur hefty fines for failing to adhere to city law.
Under a Scottsdale ordinance adopted in October, all properties that can be rented for fewer than 30 days, including Airbnb and Vrbo listings, must be licensed by the city. The deadline for existing short-term rentals to get a license is Jan. 8. No short-term rentals are “grandfathered” in, according to a city press release.
But as of Jan. 3, a license has been sought for fewer than 900 of the city’s estimated 5,000 listings — less than 20%, according to Scottsdale officials.
Beginning Jan. 9, unlicensed short-term rentals will be subject to enforcement under the ordinance, including a minimum fine of $1,000, according to the press release. Scottsdale mailed licensing notices to known short-term rental properties, the release said.
The Scottsdale ordinance followed a state law that took effect in September. It allows cities to license short-term rentals and crack down on nuisance properties. Under state law, cities can fine unlicensed properties $1,000 every 30 days.
The state law was signed after years of negotiations between municipal governments and short-term rental industry leaders. Many city and town leaders say vacation rentals have caused a slew of problems, from nuisance complaints and safety issues to eating up the local housing supply.
“Protecting neighborhoods and compliance with Arizona Statutes will be strictly enforced,” Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega wrote in an email to The Arizona Republic. “After all, the industry signed off on the law.”
Vrbo is working with its rental hosts, Scottsdale officials and Arizonans for Responsible Tourism, a group that advocates on behalf of vacation rental owners, to inform property owners and managers they must apply for a permit, said Ashley Hodgini, head of U.S. public policy for Expedia Group, which owns Vrbo, in an email.
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Arizonans for Responsible Tourism is also taking additional steps to inform its members of the regulations and how to become licensed, board member Janaya Goselin wrote in an email.
“While we know these added regulations require a bit of additional time and effort, we are confident that they are for the greater good and a huge step towards helping weed out the irresponsible hosts that have tarnished this industry,” Goselin said.
Airbnb emailed its short-term rental operators “to remind them about the registration deadline,” spokesperson Mattie Zazueta said.
Because many short-term rental owners are out-of-state investors, it’s not surprising that licensing numbers are low, said Kate Bauer, co-founder of the Arizona Neighborhood Alliance, a group that advocates for more short-term rental restrictions.
“In this situation, people tend to ask for forgiveness instead of permission,” Bauer wrote in an email. Until online rental platforms are required to share the locations of their listings, she said, it will fall to municipalities to identify rental properties and enforce the law.
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The short-term rental industry has “repeatedly resisted regulations,” said Scottsdale City Councilmember Solange Whitehead.
“Our ordinances are business-friendly, practical and easy to follow. So I’m disappointed,” Whitehead said of the few properties that had become licensed. “But I’m assured that we will work aggressively to get the job done.”
More Information, including instructions on how to apply for a license, can be found at
Juliette Rihl covers housing insecurity and homelessness for The Arizona Republic. She can be reached at or on Twitter @julietterihl.
A grant from the Arizona Community Foundation supports coverage of housing insecurity on and in The Arizona Republic.


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