Cave Creek holds short-term rental owners accountable with public health and safety law

Jul 29, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm

short-term rental owners in Cave Creek, Arizona...

Many Cave Creek homes are available for short-term rentals on Airbnb and Vrbo. (Airbnb photo)

(Airbnb photo)

PHOENIX — Cave Creek will hold irresponsible short-term rental owners in the town accountable with new fees and penalties, according to a Monday news release.

Cave Creek’s town council adopted a Short-Term Rental Public Health & Safety Protections law on July 17. The law introduces registration and licensing fees to those who own short-term rentals.

For instance, people who rent local homes will have to pay a $250 license fee each year. Those who fail to fork up the cash will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. They might even lose their ability to rent out their property.

Furthermore, those who want to start offering a short-term rental for the first time will have to notify neighbors, according to the resolution.

The July 17 decision came after months of planning, public comments and rewriting the legislation.

Loud parties with vulgar guests and nasty music made life hell for residents

During previous town council meetings, residents pleaded with politicians to hold short-term rental owners accountable for hurting their quality of life. One resident described a nearby home owned by a Californian LLC that rented the property for bachelor parties.

“For four years now, myself along with my children have been exposed weekly to loud parties blasting music, profanity, strippers,” resident Janine Maxwell said during a May 1 town hall meeting.

“My kids cannot use our pool or play outside while the party house is rented. How is that fair to my family? Why does this out-of-town owner have all the rights but I have none?”

She said drunk men at bachelor parties have yelled at her children and sexually harassed her.

“There has been no one to turn to for help,” she said. “The deputies have not written one noise citation no matter how late they are called in the four years.”

She and other residents who gave public comments described unclear reporting guidelines. On top of that, Cave Creek locals said police were lax about punishing excessive noise violations.

“We moved here and have had to spend a lot of money soundproofing our home,” resident Chris Swainhart said. “During the construction, contractors actually complained and objected to the vulgar profanities they had to listen to coming from right behind our home during the daylight hours.”

He said Airbnb software turned their home into an “an R-rated nightmare where even seasoned workers blush.”

What does this mean for short-term rental owners in Cave Creek?

During the July 17 meeting, town attorney Bill Sims said this ordinance is targeted towards out-of-town homeowners.

“The target here really is the out of town managers and owners who go and buy a number of short-term operator short-term rentals and then hire management teams,” he said. “They’re not on scene.”

During previous town meetings, Cave Creek locals complained over not knowing how to report issues with short-term rentals. Sims said they should reach out to town marshal Adam Stein.

“You have a very rapid process here,” he said. “If, in fact, they don’t respond to a complaint in 60 minutes, that’s a violation. If they do it three times, they can be suspended.”

Thus, short-term rental owners will have to quickly respond to complaints once the ordinance goes into effect on Nov. 6.

“Right now, once you retain the vendor, the vendor will call the marshal,” Sims said. “He then will respond to make sure the 60-minute clock starts ticking.”

Short-term rental owners with licensing questions can use this guide.

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Cave Creek holds short-term rental owners accountable with public health and safety law