Albuquerque’s housing crisis is being felt in all corners of our city and by people from all walks of life. Working people, families, students and seniors are all struggling to find an affordable place to live. The lack of housing is creating real strain in our communities. We need to work together to address the crisis now or face dire consequences. That means doing everything possible to protect current housing stock and facilitate potential new housing. Among other strategies, we must establish fair and reasonable protections regarding short-term rentals (STRs).
Locally operated STRs have a role to play in our local economy. But our existing city STR ordinance needs to be updated to ensure the number of STRs does not increase disproportionally at a time when there are not enough homes to go around. A proposal currently before the City Council contains reasonable and minimal changes to the STR ordinance that would help us accomplish the greater goal.
First, we should limit the number of STR permits issued citywide to no more than the current monthly average of active units. Second, we should require all STRs to have a local Albuquerque property manager available to respond to maintenance and security concerns, prioritizing local over out-of-state interests. Third, we should limit STR permits to three per person. That will address the practice of large companies buying up multiple housing units to convert them into STRs and squeezing out long-term renters.
It’s important to note that month-to-month rentals, such as those regularly housing film crews and travelling nurses, etc., would not be impacted by this legislation, as STRs are defined as those who stay 29 days or less.
These proposed changes will continue to allow a robust STR market that provides income to Albuquerque residents. They are meant to provide sensible protections for local residents at a time when we are short more than 20,000 housing units. There have been concerns expressed by a handful of current STR owners about how the changes would affect them, but they would actually affect only a small number of people. The city is exploring legacy exemptions for persons legally operating STRs today, but that would be the exception, not the rule.
In addition to the proposed new STR ordinance, many changes to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) have been proposed to allow more types of housing to be built and renovated throughout Albuquerque. By removing historic, and often discriminatory, barriers to the construction and renovation of more diverse housing types, our housing stock can increase.
Let’s not allow myths about reasonable STR protections keep us from doing the right thing for Albuquerque. If we want to solve the housing crisis, we all have to pitch in – from STR owners to homeowners to landlords to neighborhood advocates to policymakers, the community will need to work together to overcome our housing crisis.