Short-term rentals sit empty as pandemic's impact continues

Posted at 10:52 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 23:52:19-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thousands of Nashville short-term rentals have sat empty for month as COVID-19 has put the city on pause, forcing some rental owners to sell their properties.

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. said more than 900 meetings and conventions were canceled in Nashville, and tens of thousands of trips were postponed. Rental owners said March, April and May are among their busiest months, along with October.

"It has been tough, I guess, I don't know how else to sum it up," Megan McCrea, the president of the Nashville Area Short-Term Rental Association (NASTRA), said. "I don't think anybody could have anticipated that something like this would ever happen."

McCrea said her five rental units have only had a handful of guests since stay-at-home orders first went into effect in mid-March. While she decided to keep her properties, she said other NASTRA members have had to sell.

"We have members that actually have already listed and or are under contract for the sale of their property and we have members who are moving to a long-term model," McCrea said.

Demand to own a short-term rental has fallen in recent months as well. According to data from the Metro Codes Department, there were 169 short-term rental applications in April, 2018 and 197 in April, 2019. But last month, there were just 24 rental applications. During the pandemic, the department postponed inspections of possible rentals, which is required before an application is approved.

Cooper said COVID-19 isn't the only thing causing concerns among owners. Right now metro leaders have proposed three different budgets, and all of them contain an at least 32 percent property tax increase.

"On some of my properties my property tax would be far more than my mortgage," McCrea said. "This isn't like its impacting out of state people, 80 percent are within the state, these are your neighbors, these are your friends."