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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 20, 2017 1:00 am

More work needed on short-term rental bill

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A push to block communities from regulating short-term rentals such as Airbnb hit a wall Wednesday but is not dead.

The concurrence vote on House Bill 1133 failed to reach a constitutional majority of 51 votes when its tally was 50-46. That means it didn't have enough votes to definitively pass or kill it.

House Speaker Brian Bosma does not generally vote on bills and he didn't on this one. But if the speaker can put a bill over the top, the author can ask him to cast a vote. House Majority Leader Matt Lehman, R-Berne, did not ask him to.

That's probably because Bosma said he doesn't have a lot of confidence in the legislation, which doesn't allow local units of government to ban such temporary online housing options.

The bill still has life. Lehman can try to sway support and call it for an additional vote, or he can take the legislation to a conference committee to try to find a compromise.

Lehman urged his colleagues to embrace the emerging technology, and he focused on property rights of homeowners.

“I'm asking to set a very high bar when it comes to private property rights,” he said.

But others said a statewide ban on bans is not appropriate because some tourist communities might welcome the practice while a suburban neighborhood might not.

“I think we are years early,” said Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. “Let's let the opportunity for local regulation happen. If they are bad, we can deal with it.”

Various websites now advertise short-term rentals around the country, letting people book rooms in homes or entire condos and houses.

But some communities around the nation and in Indiana have started to block such measures or at least regulate the industry.

Under House Bill 1133, none of that would be allowed.

Cities couldn't even register those renting their homes or charge a permit fee. One reason cities want a registry is to make it easier to collect innkeeper's taxes on the stays – the same as when you book a hotel room.

The only limitation in the bill is that homeowners could not book their property more than 180 days a year. And they would have to carry liability insurance.

Police can continue to enforce rules that apply to all houses such as a noise ordinance. And the legislation does allow homeowners associations to block the practice.

“I'm honestly torn on it between local control and the new economy emerging,” Bosma said. “I do believe locals should have some ability to control their communities and rental properties in their local communities.”