Nashville neighbors skeptical as Airbnb imposes ban on parties

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 21:52:21-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The company with listings all over the globe says the ban will help social distancing efforts, but neighbors across Nashville say they’ve yet to see bans like these enforced.

Had they known what to expect next door on Pecan Street, Stephanie Gonzalez and her fiancé Trevor Murphy may have thought twice before moving in a year ago.

Since then, practically every weekend has meant One large party after another. On multiple occasions, they've seen parties of more than 100 people.

“It’s like somebody decided to take Broadway and say, here’s a little seed of Broadway and we’re going to put it right next to your house,” Murphy said.

What’s most frustrating for the couple is knowing they’ve already postponed their wedding to help keep their friends and family safe. Outside their window, is the constant reminder that not everyone feels as strongly about doing the right thing.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant only a couple weeks without a problem, but lately, Gonzalez says the parties have made a major comeback. Not only are tourists booking these properties, but locals are escaping the restrictions at the bars and throwing parties as well.

“We’re reporting the things as they tell you to do. We thought that eventually it would get taken care of. We then found out that the three strikes just basically doesn’t matter,” Gonzalez said.

We found several Metro codes violations for four units on this stretch of Pecan street. Violations including noise complaints, excess occupancy and not having the permits properly displayed.

The couple says they have no problem with short term rentals when they’re owner-occupied. It’s the nonowner-occupied units that raise the biggest concerns. If for nothing else, the lack of accountability when property owners are absent.

“I have always asserted that the remedy is policy,” said Metro councilwoman Angie Henderson of District 34.

Henderson says at least with the city, she and her colleagues have worked on actions to phase out nonowner-occupied rentals over the next few years.

“We had a three-year phase out, but the state of Tennessee preempted us and said you have to grandfather those,” Henderson said.

According to Metro codes, a new nonowner-occupied short term rental property permit is “only permitted in certain nonresidentially-zoned areas.”

The permits are also non-transferable, so when the ownership changes, the permit can not be used on that property again.

“I wish it were happening sooner. Frankly, because it has been highly problematic for Nashville,” Henderson said.

It’s still more than she expects to be enforced by Airbnb and other rental sites, who claim they will hold hosts accountable.

Gonzalez says many of these rentals are also listed on other sites like Stay Minty where they almost encourage you to invite as many people as you’d like.

The first line of the listing for “Pecan Row” is “not only we allow bachelor and bachelorette parties, we welcome you with open arms!”

It’s become a revolving door of people and parties that Gonzalez says we need real solutions for. She’s tried contacting Airbnb and says what she gets in return are “blanket statements.”

We also reached out to Airbnb for a comment specifically to address Nashville and received a summary of their previous press release.

“Unauthorized parties have always been prohibited at Airbnb listings. In fact, 73% of our listings globally already ban parties in their House Rules, and the vast majority of our guests behave in manners that show respect for House Rules and for neighbors. We’ve historically allowed hosts to use their best judgment and authorize small parties – such as baby showers or birthday parties – if they’re appropriate for their home and their neighborhood. “

Airbnb says they are currently in the process of making all their guests and hosts aware of the new policy. They’ve also launched a 24/7 neighborhood hotline to report any complaints.