HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – As short-term rentals like Airbnb’s and Vrbo’s become increasingly popular, the City of Hot Springs is working to implement some rules for owners.
Currently, the city has no regulations on short-term rentals and up until recently didn’t require a permit.
From the Arkansas Derby to the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade, Hot Springs is a hot spot for tourists. Instead of staying in hotels, many travelers are booking their accommodations at a house or condo.
According to City Manager Bill Burrough, there are about 1,000 short-term rentals inside the city limits.
He said without any kind of city regulations on those, there have been complaints.
“There’s parking problems, there’s traffic congestion, the noise,” Burrough said.
That’s why the city board is working on a list of rules starting with occupancy.
“Probably going to be based on square footage of the facility, the number of bedrooms, and we want to make sure there’s ample off-street parking,” Burrough said.
He said the biggest complaints they get are from properties that don’t have an owner or manager in town. Dylan Driggers is one of the Vacation Rental Specialists that co-hosts more than 20 short-term rentals in town.
“If issues were to arise, they can get handled then and there,” Driggers said.
He said he understands the need for regulations.
“As long as they aren’t overbearing or overreaching with those guidelines,” Driggers said. “The parking is a concern, you know size requirements, occupancy.”
Beau Durbin owns seven Airbnb’s inside the city limits. He is worried the new rules could cut down on business.
“These are smaller homes that can accommodate four to six people. I would hate to see that knocked down to where you can only sleep two people in a house,” Durbin said.
He just hopes the city considers the owners perspective.
“I hope it’s a fair balance. It makes sense not only for the residents that live here but the investors who want to move their money here and invest in our town,” Durbin said.
Another issue is paying taxes. Hotels and Airbnb pay the sales tax and hospitality tax but other platforms like Vrbo do not. The board should vote on an ordinance at their May 18th meeting.