short-term rentals

The purple in this map represents homes in Scottsdale that are used as short-term rentals.

Despite a slight setback created by the pandemic in 2020, the number of short-term rentals in Scottsdale continues to grow.

There were 5,404 short-term rentals in the city in December 2021 listed by Airbnb and Vrbo, according to AirDNA, an independent agency that monitors the short-term rental industry. That’s up from 4,119 in December 2020 and 5,221 in December 2019. 

“It looks like the dip was almost straight after the onset of the pandemic, and more properties came back online in spring of 2021 as bookings picked up again,” said AirDNA spokeswoman Madeleine Parkin.

“One thing to bear in mind is that supply in short-term rentals is much more flexible than in the hotel world,” Parkin continued. “Property managers can choose to take their property offline one month, for personal use or longer-term rents, perhaps, and then return to short-term rental when the market is more profitable – for example, in the high season, if that’s summer or winter.” 

Airbnb and Expedia Group released new data on the economic impact of short-term rentals in Arizona, showing the industry is big business in the state. 

Short-term rentals generated 75,543 jobs in Arizona alone. That translated into $6.57 billion in economic impact. Tax revenue was a little over $538 million. 

In Maricopa County those numbers were 41,134 jobs, almost $3.58 billion in economic impact and just shy of $307 million in tax revenue.  

AirDNA’s annual report tracking short-term rentals shows homes sprawled out throughout the city, though the vast majority are located in south Scottsdale.

Of the total in Scottsdale, 5,021 rentals were for entire homes, 298 for private rooms and two were for shared rooms, with 40% of all rentals listed on Airbnb, 24% listed on Vrbo, and 36% listed on both.

In terms of the size of those rentals, 2% were studios, 8% one-bedroom, 26% two-bedrooms, 21% three-bedrooms, 20% four-bedrooms and 13% had five or more bedrooms.

The vast majority included heating and cooling, a washer and a kitchen, though only 66% had a dryer. Pools were available in 64% of the rentals and hot tubs in 33%. The least likely amenity was cable television, available in only 28% of the homes.

A one-night minimum stay was required in 22% of the homes while 29% required two nights, 19% had a three-night minimum, 10%  four to six nights, and 8% anywhere up to 29 nights. A minimum of 30 nights was required in 12%.

The average daily rate was $292, with March seeing the highest average rates at $321 and September the lowest at $268.

Average occupancy rate was 68% with March again being the most popular with an 84% occupancy and the lowest in September at 60%.

The average per-rental revenue was $3,708 with March ranking the highest at $4,984 and the January the lowest at $2,919.

Meanwhile, Airbnb released year-end data outlining its efforts to try to combat and stop unauthorized parties in Arizona throughout 2021. 

In the summer of 2020, Airbnb took action to ban parties on its platform as part of its mission to prioritize public health in the early days of the pandemic as well as to try to prevent community disruption and wild parties. 

To help enforce its party ban, the company rolled out a number of strategies aimed at trying to block and stop potential unauthorized parties while promoting safe and responsible travel.

Most prominently, in 2020 Airbnb announced a new policy that restricts guests under 25 without a history of positive reviews from booking entire home listings in their local area under certain circumstances. These guests are still allowed to book private room listings where generally the host lives on site.

In 2021, this “Under-25” anti-party policy blocked or redirected approximately 11,000 people in Arizona from making local entire home bookings. 

Additionally, certain times of the year are more likely to encourage attempts to throw unauthorized parties. To help enforce its party policy during events like the 4th of July, Halloween and New Year’s Eve, Airbnb introduced new rules to strengthen hosts’ protection against unauthorized parties over those weekends. 

The anchor of this plan for these weekends was a ban on one-night bookings in entire home listings for guests without a history of positive reviews. 

That impacted over 3,200 people on the 4th of July, over 2,100 people on Halloween and over 2,900 people on New Year’s Eve.

“The great majority of guests treat their hosts’ homes and neighbors with the utmost respect,”   Airbnb said in a statement. “These initiatives are about trying to find the needles in the haystacks and stop potentially disruptive parties in service to our hosts and neighbors.” 

Scottsdale passed two laws in 2021 designed to curb abuses by short-term renters. 

The first ordinance requires each property’s emergency contact to respond in person to the site within one hour for emergencies if police have to respond for complaints about unruly gatherings. 

The second ordinance sets fines at the maximum amounts allowed under state law. For example, it creates a sliding scale of fines of $750, $1,500, $2,000 and $2,5000 (the maximum allowed under state law) for owners and $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,000 for occupants based on the number of prior violations.

It also eliminates the police service fee provisions of the city’s nuisance party and unruly gathering ordinances and replaces it with civil sanctions through citations filed in City Court. Officials said that will improve enforceability, including the possibility of filing criminal charges against someone defined as a habitual offender.

Paradise Valley recently passed a law requiring all short-term rental owners to do background checks to ensure no clients are registered sex offenders. 

Scottsdale’s revised code states, “No vacation rental or short-term rental may be used for any non-residential use or purpose including but not limited to any of the following ... housing sex offenders.”

“So, it is illegal to use a short-term rental to house sex offenders in Scottsdale,” said Scottsdale Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell.

Although the state Legislature has loosened its grip on the regulation of short-term rentals by returning some of the power to municipalities that it stripped from them in 2016, some lawmakers have introduced bills in the current session to get the state completely out of regulating them and return that power to municipalities.

That effort has split the Republican delegation, as Chandler Sen. J.D. Mesnard submitting a weaker bill that would return only a few powers.

The issue has been divisive in past legislative sessions, with many short-term rental owners appearing to testify against any efforts to curb their ability to use their property in any way they see fit.  

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