Not Only is Memphis BBQ Better, Its Airbnb Rules Are Too
BY JUSTIN OWEN
This week represented yet another victory for Tennesseans who want to participate in the new economy. In a marked departure from cities like Nashville and Chattanooga, the Memphis City Council passed sensible legislation concerning Airbnb, VRBO, and similar services. The law pretty much sets a standard tax rate comparable to that of hotels, imposes existing noise, nuisance, and trash ordinances on hosts, and that’s about it.
A previous rendition of the ordinance created a permitting process, established an appeals board that included representatives of the hotel industry, and banned hosts from offering their guests even prepackaged food like snacks and candy. As to the latter, Council Chairman Kemp Conrad said it ran counter to Southern etiquette to tell people they can’t leave cookies for their guests. I couldn’t agree more.
The final product passed by the council is a breath of fresh air and a great example to follow for Nashville, which had imposed an arbitrary cap on short-term rentals, and Chattanooga, which now claims short-term rentals are banned entirely in residential areas. Fortunately, Beacon successfully challenged the constitutionality of Nashville’s law, forcing the city to go back to the drawing board. We’re also closely watching what unfolds in Chattanooga, Knoxville (which has pending regulations), and other cities across Tennessee.
Those considering regulations on Tennesseans’ ability to exercise their property rights and provide a meaningful service in the process should take a cue from Memphis. There is a place for reasonable limits on things like excessive noise, parties, trash, and other nuisances that interfere with neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their property. But passing unconstitutional and unfair laws that trample on the rights of property owners is not only unnecessary, it won’t be tolerated.