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If the Government Doesn’t Protect Your Property, You Are the Property

BY HANNAH COX

September 2, 2016 12:02PM

As you most likely know, the Beacon Center filed a lawsuit against the city of Nashville challenging the city’s unconstitutional regulations on short-term rental properties (STRPs). Since that time, Beacon and our clients have experienced an overwhelming outpouring of support from all across the state.

We have heard countless stories from individuals whose livelihood depends on their use of Airbnb, who would have lost their homes without this additional income, and who are depending on the use of their property to prepare for retirement. We’ve even heard stories from families who were able to stay with their relative while they were in a hospital in Nashville for an extended period of time solely thanks to Airbnb.

Not only that, but we have already celebrated two victories in our lawsuit, with the Metro Council voting to overturn both the ban on signs for STRPs and the ridiculous ordinance that gave police the ability to seize the records of property owners without a warrant. The main issue we are still fighting is the 3% cap on STRPs, a rule that results in unequal application of the law and creates a monopoly—both blatant violations of homeowners’ constitutional rights.

People have a right to their property and to use it as they see fit. As long as they are not breaking any laws, it is not the government’s place to dictate what goes on in a person’s home. The consensus seems clear—for everyone except a few Metro councilmen

A new bill was filed with the Metro Council yesterday that would reduce the already unconstitutional cap of 3% for non-owner occupied STRPs to 1%. This is a brazen, contemptible action that is clearly against the law and does nothing to address any existing issues with the use of STRPs.

Metro’s formal record of gathering complaints does not show that non-owner occupied STRP permit holders are any more of a nuisance than anything else. If the goal was really to address legitimate issues surrounding STRPs, then the Metro Council could easily choose to pull from any of the sensible, legal reforms that we at Beacon have proposed. These actions include effective enforcement of existing laws, increasing penalties for noise, trash, and nuisance violations, allowing for immediate rectification of neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their property rather than a lengthy complaint process, providing for the revocation of permits upon three verified violations, among others.

But addressing actual issues isn’t the goal here. The goal is to limit homeowners’ use of their property so as to protect the interests of a few. All this regulation would do is make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and make a living.

It’s such a disgrace that our local government is actively attacking the rights of some Nashvillians to benefit others. This is why we at the Beacon Center are fighting tirelessly to combat this gross misuse of power and restore the rights of our fellow Nashvillians. If the government is not protecting your property rights, then you are the property.