Lexington AirBNB Regulations Pass Committee – What’s Next for the Ordinance?

Lexington, Ky.–A proposal to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO was approved by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council’s General Government and Planning Committee Tuesday. The resolution received unanimous support, and it would bring changes to city ordinances and zoning regulations.

Although the proposed regulations have been passed by the committee, a final vote will take place in the coming months. The Planning Commission will review the regulations and vote on the zoning text amendments before sending them back to the council for further review. The council will then make any desired changes before a final vote.

The new regulations include an annual $200 license fee for all short-term rental operators and a $200 fee for the first rental for those with multiple units. A local registration number will also be required to be advertised on rental websites. The maximum occupancy for short-term rentals will be 12, and hosting private events exceeding this limit will not be allowed.

Short-term rental operators that host on platforms other than Airbnb, VRBO, and Expedia will have to remit hotel taxes to the city. The proposed changes will also clarify where short-term rentals are allowed and what types of short-term rentals need city sign-offs. Those that don’t follow the city’s regulations will face a fine starting from $125 for a first offense up to $1,000 for a fourth offense.

City officials have expressed the need for these regulations since short-term rental operators who do not pay hotel taxes put traditional brick-and-mortar hotels at a disadvantage. Additionally, advocates have raised concerns that the high demand for short-term rentals has led landlords to convert long-term rentals to short-term ones, leading to skyrocketing rents.

The proposed regulations are the result of the work of a workgroup, which included neighborhood representatives and short-term rental operators, who collaborated to find a balanced approach. Councilwoman Liz Sheehan and Councilman James Brown co-chaired the work group, and the proposed regulations are aimed at achieving a balance between neighborhoods and operators.

Other cities like Nashville, Louisville, and even Georgetown have similar regulations in place.

Photo: Council Members Kathy Plomin, James Brown, and Dan Wu with Mayor Linda Gorton (left to right) at Tuesday’s Council Work Session. (LFUCG)