Politics

The Louisville Metro Council on Thursday approved a series of regulations for short-term rentals, a growing sector fostered by online services such as Airbnb.

The regulations include a $25 annual registration fee, a requirement that hosts be located within 25 miles of the rental property and “clearly marked” evacuation plans for the premises. The new rules also include a requirement that the facility have no more than twice the number of renters as bedrooms, plus four, in the building. And the property can have no more than one short-term rental contract at a time.

The regulations will carry penalties beginning with a warning. But for a third offense, owners will be fined between $500 and $1,000. The city will also have the option to take subsequent offenses to circuit court through civil complaints or by seeking an injunction.

“The ordinance allows this growing industry to operate in Louisville, levels the playing field with hotels and motels on transient occupancy taxes, and protects neighborhoods by limiting the number of occupants and other provisions,” said Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, in a news release.

The ordinance passed Thursday by a vote of 20-6. It was sponsored by Hollander and Democratic Councilmen David James and Tom Owen.

Another ordinance under consideration by the city’s Planning Commission addresses the zoning districts in which short-term rentals will be permitted. If approved by the commission, that ordinance will be forwarded to the council’s ad hoc land development code committee for further consideration, according to a city news release.

The ordinance OKed Thursday by the Metro Council won’t take effect until June 1, and the council will attempt to address the zoning element of the legislation before then.

“Short-term rentals are an industry that will only continue to grow, and we need to embrace it as a mechanism to show off some of our fantastic neighborhoods,” said Councilman James Peden, a Republican representing District 23.

This summer, short-term renters — or hosts, in Airbnb parlance — told council members that stiffer regulations may be financially harmful to them. But representatives of Louisville’s hotel industry said short-term renters should be required to follow regulations, just as the hotel industry is required to do.

Most cities have not created regulations for the short-term rental sector.

The ordinance approved Thursday will be forwarded to Mayor Greg Fischer for his signature.