While Arizona legislators debate whether or not to hand regulatory powers back to cities to rein in short-term rentals, some Scottsdale home owners associations are taking matters into their own hands.
The McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Association adopted a new rule that went into effect on April 1 that bans short-term rentals in the community and assesses a $350 per day fine for violations.
The new rule prohibits homes “from being used, allowed, authorized, or advertised for lease for a term of less than” 30 days.
The McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Association adopted the rule into its guiding documents in November 2019 with an effective date of April 1, 2020, said General Manager Chris Richardson.
Prior to the adoption, Richardson said most homes in the community could be “rented out as frequently as nightly,” though he said come community’s within McDowell Mountain Ranch have separate rules and may have already banned short-term rentals.
“The policy was adopted because of a large number of owners who were concerned about their neighboring properties being rented out on a short term basis,” Richardson said. “There were also concerns about loud parties and general community compliance.”
McDowell Mountain Ranch is not the only Scottsdale community that has taken it upon itself to outlaw short-term rentals.
The DC Ranch community has had a strict rental policy in place since 2008, and updated that policy to include a minimum $1,000 fine in March 2019, DC Ranch Association Executive Director Darren Shaw said.
DC Ranch’s policy states that owners in the community may rent their homes, but “the rental/lease term may be no less than six months in duration, and the property may only be rented or leased once in any six-month period.”
Shaw said the policy was adopted to discourage rentals at that the association has a person on staff assigned to regularly check for vacation rental sites at DC Ranch properties.
“The policy was adopted by the Board in response to resident complaints and concerns,” Shaw said. “In 2014, a team of residents and staff began compiling what is now our Standards for Conduct at which time the $1,000 fine, our largest, was added for short-term rentals.”
The new McDowell Mountain Ranch rule went into effect at a time when cities have little power to regulate short-term rental homes leased out through popular platforms like Airbnb and VRBO due to a state law passed four years ago that prohibits municipalities from specifically regulating short-term rentals.
That law has not stopped cities like Scottsdale from passing new ordinances in an attempt to crack down on the nuisance parties and other gatherings that Richardson alluded to.
In 2019, Scottsdale passed new nuisance party and unlawful gathering ordinances that levy thousands of dollars in fines on home owners and renters if gatherings conflict with city rules.
The new ordinances included prohibitions on public drunkenness, drug use, underage drinking, the blockage of traffic and excessive noise.
The ordinances were also in compliance with state law, because they applied to all properties, not just short-term rentals – though the rules were widely seen as the city’s response to resident complaints about the rental properties.
Richardson, with McDowell Mountain Ranch, said the new restrictions generated some opposition but the majority of the community is behind them and that residents are still permitted to rent out their properties in accordance with community guidelines.
“Owners are still permitted to operate Airbnb, VRBO, etc. in McDowell Mountain Ranch as long as they rent them out for a minimum of 30 days at a time,” Richardson said. “As mentioned previously, some communities within MMR may have more restrictive rules and regulations but cannot be less restrictive."