Short Term Rentals

There are many research papers and case studies of communities that document the impacts, both positive and negative, resulting from the growth of short-term rentals (STRs) in cities and counties in the United States.  Companies such as Airbnb and VRBO, and owners of short-term rentals, emphasize the contributions that increased tourism and diversity of tourist accommodations play in supporting local economies, especially in areas where tourism is a significant contributor to the economy.  But there are costs and negative impacts that must also be considered.  These include negative effects on community cohesion and quality of life for residents, as well as impacts on housing accessibility and affordability.

STR’s negatively affect communities in four ways:

  1. They reduce the inventory of homes available for purchase or long-term rental by residents. Every home that is converted into a STR is one less home available for a resident.
  2. When adequate regulations and enforcement are lacking, STR’s can have on-going negative impacts on neighbors due to late night parties, illegal parking, trespass on neighbors’ properties, garbage, etc.
  3. When a neighborhood becomes saturated with short term rentals, permanent residents no longer have neighbors. The feeling of safety and comfort in one’s neighborhood is diminished.
  4. Homes that can be converted to a short term rental sell for a premium over nearby homes. This is because STR’s are commercial properties; they generate a positive cash flow from the overnight rentals that can be used to offset the cost of the mortgage. For this reason, buyers are willing to pay more for a property, which in turn increases the cost of all homes in the area.

Chelan County, and most of the cities contained therein, have regulations in place to manage short term rentals. The strength of these regulations and the effectiveness of enforcement varies. RC3 monitors these regulations and their implementation, and advocates for strong protections for residents and their neighborhoods.