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Arizona Senate: Airbnb Hosts Can Rent On Without Restrictions

(Photo courtesy of Airbnb via Twitter)
Airbnb is a website for people to list, find and rent temporary lodging.

Arizona Airbnb hosts are free to continue renting out their spare rooms and couches, at least if the state Senate has anything to say about it.

Senators voted Tuesday to block local governments from restricting the ability of property owners to rent out their homes for short-term or vacation rentals.

The original purpose of the measure was to eliminate the requirement for homeowners to collect local taxes every time they rent out a room or a house through online sharing services like Airbnb. Instead, it would be the responsibility of the firms themselves to collect the applicable taxes and forward them to the Department of Revenue, which would then send funds to the affected jurisdictions.

But Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, tacked on language which says cities, towns and counties cannot prohibit or restrict these rentals simply because the property is not classified as a hotel.

That didn't sit well with Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. He said long-term rentals are fine, and he doesn't have a problem with snowbirds renting a house for a month or two.

"But we had a problem in Fountain Hills where people had vacant houses and they were allowing individuals through services like this to rent them for the weekend when there are big golf or other events in town. And a whole bunch of people come and they party at the house. They arrive on Friday and leave on Sunday. That's not what I want my neighborhood to be," he said.

The bill, which now goes to the House, does not leave cities entirely powerless. It does preserve the right to regulate for public health and safety. And cities could step in if the short-term rentals are for housing sex offenders, selling illegal drugs, or creating porn.