Friday, October 21, 2016

Metro Short Term Rental Property Ordinance Unconstitutional

Earlier today, Judge Kevin Jones of the Davidson County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a challenge to Metro's Short Term Rental Property Ordinance, finding it unconstitutionally vague. The court ruled on a Motion for Summary Judgment, my guess is orally from the bench, and so an order will be entered sometime in the next week or two. At this present time, I am assuming that no written version of the court's ruling is available. I did check with the Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk's office, and there is no order as of yet (which would be expected if the ruling was from the bench on the motion).

In essence, the plaintiffs argued that the definition of short-term rental properties was unconstitutionally vague and overlapped with a number of other land-use definitions contained in the Metro Zoning Ordinance, including hotels, boardinghouse, and bed-and-breakfasts. From some of the published reports, it appears that the court did not hold the 3% rule unconstitutional, but since the definitions are unconstitutionally vague, the 3% cap was invalidated as well.

It is certainly an interesting decision, and it will be more interesting to read the order. Finally, whether Metro will appeal is another interesting question. It may be simpler to simply pass another ordinance. The difficulty from the standpoint of property owners is that with the increased concern which is developed over the last few years since the adoption of the ordinance, there may be rather draconian solutions, including simply restricting short-term rentals to commercial areas of the city.

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