Phoenix short-term rental regulation audit finds enforcement, communication issues

A new report shows the City of Phoenix is failing to properly regulate short-term rentals and solutions could be years away.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:00 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A new audit shows the City of Phoenix is coming up short in regulating short-term rentals. From noise complaints to out-of-hand house parties, it’s all getting jammed up because these rentals aren’t registered with the city. As a result, many officers don’t know how to flag them as problem properties.

Arizona Neighborhood Alliance co-founder Susan Edwards battled with short-term rentals for nearly four years after one of them moved in next door. “It seems to me and most of us, they’re glaring slow when the problem is mushrooming and metastasizing in a phenomenal way,” said Edwards.

Among the findings, departments need to better work together on the issue with more communication between the police department, neighborhood services, planning and development department, prosecutor’s office and municipal courts on how violations will be penalized. The report also finds that police departments need to train their officers on how to issue citations and refer properties that aren’t registered as short-term rentals.

“Why can’t we have a task force like Scottsdale?” Edwards asked. “Why can’t we be a leader? Why do we have to be a distant follower?” Before Edwards was able to change the deed restrictions in her historic neighborhood, she was met with a short-term rental next door. “Next thing we know, it’s frat party city over there,” said Edwards. “Next morning, they were playing beer pong so loudly I had to shut the windows.”

The city ordinance requires short-term rentals to be registered with the city or face a fine. Since January 2020, there have been 1504. However, Edwards said her organization, through multiple databases, found that number to be estimated much higher. “More than 10,000,” said Edwards. The audit pulled five police reports on short-term rentals from seven Phoenix precincts. Of those 35 reviewed, 24 calls about properties were not registered as short-term rentals.

The report finds that officers did not refer those violations to another department due to a lack of training about the ordinance. Lastly, the audit’s solution gives Phoenix police two years to train their officers on those citations. “What does it take to get something done? This is how many years? And its just mushrooming, that’s the terrifying part, this is the step, I commend them for doing this but also I wish they talked to us,” said Edwards.