Albuquerque to consider capping vacation rentals - Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque to consider capping vacation rentals

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

Mayor Tim Keller wants to cap the number of vacation rentals in Albuquerque at 1,200 and, for the first time, regulate how many an individual owner can have.

The city needs the new short-term rental policies to “limit the effects of the housing shortage and increase the utilization of existing properties as long-term residential dwellings,” according to a memo and analysis Keller recently sent City Council President Pat Davis.

Keller’s proposal – which Councilors Isaac Benton, Tammy Fiebelkorn and Renee Grout are sponsoring at the mayor’s request – springs from the city’s “Housing Forward” initiative that aims to add 5,000 more residential units by 2025 than what the market would typically create in that same span.

Keller announced the initiative’s broad strokes last fall and has continued rolling out more detailed elements, like a new short-term rental cap that would keep the total number to 1,200 citywide and prohibit any person from having more than three.

A city spokesman said it is about “protecting our housing stock” so that Albuquerque residents can find places to live.

“This is a mechanism to kind of deter corporations and LLCs from buying up a bunch of property here,” said Tim Walsh, a spokesman for the city Planning Department.

The changes would come via amendments to Albuquerque’s existing short-term rental ordinance. Passed in 2020 and effective since April 2021, the ordinance set new requirements for vacation rentals in New Mexico’s largest city. Each must obtain a city permit, heed occupancy and gathering-size limits and have a representative available 24/7 to “respond to complaints.”

There are 2,110 active rentals in the Albuquerque market, according to the vacation rental analytics website AirDNA, but that is likely hundreds more than would be subject to the proposed regulations. About 13% are just private room rentals – which an AirDNA spokeswoman noted are rarely included in citywide caps because the property owner is on-site – while others are located just outside the city government’s jurisdiction, like in the South Valley or Sandia Heights. The number may also include some rentals that do not fit the city’s definition of short-term, city code compliance manager Angelo Metzgar said, like those catering to traveling nurses and other tenants who stay longer than a month.

As of now, about 600 short-term rentals are permitted by the city, Metzgar said, though he estimated there are twice that many operating.

The city – which contracts a third-party vendor to monitor compliance – has yet to fine anyone for violations even though the present ordinance allows penalties up to $500 per day of noncompliance. Metzgar said when the city’s contractor identifies a non-permitted property advertising on a vacation rental website, they are contacted and usually register for the $120 city permit or affirm they are no longer renting the property.

Councilor Grout said she is comfortable with the proposed short-term rental cap because it would encompass what likely exists today without further endangering the permanent housing stock.

“If we have the cap any higher, that would take more of those single-family homes out of the market and we’d have even more of a (housing) shortage,” Grout said. “I think it’s reasonable; I think it’s a good place to start.”

If the city were to adopt Keller’s proposal, the 1,200 spots would be a matter of first-come, first-served. Owners who have more than three such properties registered today could only continue until their annual permits on each expire, at which time Metzgar said they would be subject to the three-per-person limit.

Keller’s proposal also makes another change; instead of merely requiring each property to have someone “available” 24/7 to respond to complaints, it stipulates that a representative must be based within 20 miles of Albuquerque and available at all times to address “maintenance issues, security concerns and complaints.”

The proposal is bound for the City Council’s Finance and Government Operations committee.

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