St. Louis City Proposes Adding Additional Rules to Short-Term Rental Bill
This past June, my colleague David Stokes and I testified before the City of St. Louis Transportation and Commerce Committee regarding Board Bills 33 and 34, which would create regulations for short-term rental (STR) in the city. You can read our past testimony here.
Based on complaints (and a few horror stories), residents and officials alike have been pushing for some sort of reform in the “wild west” of STRs. I thought the original bills created a satisfactory regulatory compromise between those who enjoy the benefits of STRs and those who are subjected to the negative effects of this industry.
However, members of the Transportation and Commerce Committee are now seeking to attach additional rules that would make STR regulation even stricter. There are three key new proposed rules that would turn this proposal into an overly burdensome set of regulations.
- No STR in the City of St. Louis can allow customers to stay fewer than two nights.
The concern is people renting an STR for one night in order to throw a “rager” (I apologize for my former fraternity brother lingo). This “two-night minimum rule” is meant to curb this practice, but it still wouldn’t prevent partiers from simply renting an STR for two nights. This rule would also have negative effects for others. To illustrate one example, let’s say a student is graduating from St. Louis University and his entire extended family wants to attend. The family would be barred from renting a house for Saturday night, cheering on their graduate Sunday morning, and then leaving that afternoon (a common practice).
- The STR agent must be able to be physically present at the address within one hour if required.
An STR agent is a person or organization who operates the STR. In the original bill, the agent only had to be contactable at all times. Now, that agent must be able to show up to the STR within an hour—failure to do so can result in revocation of the permit. This rule ties the hands of any potential STR operators. This would make owning and operating an STR in St. Louis City extremely burdensome, and also nearly impossible for anyone who is traveling outside the St. Louis area.
- An owner can only operate one STR per multi-family structure (such as an apartment complex).
This was proposed in order to prevent conglomerates from buying up a large number of units in apartment complexes and creating “ghost hotels,” where residents essentially have no neighbors due to many units being converted to STRs. While this argument has some validity, as community relationships are important, the original bill already included a four-property maximum for STR owners.
Lawmakers in St. Louis City should reconsider adding these new rules to the STR reform bills. The additional rules have moved this legislation from a reasonable regulatory compromise to a burden for visitors and owners.