Judge Rules Nashville’s Airbnb Regulations Unconstitutional

A judge on Friday ruled that Nashville’s restrictions for Airbnb and other short-term rentals are unconstitutional. According to a motion the Beacon Center Legal Foundation filed last month, the city’s ordinance was “so confusing that it is unconstitutionally vague.” For instance, Nashville regulations for short-term rentals also overlapped with rules on motels and hotels, bed and breakfasts and boarding houses.

“There’s simply no way to make sense out of this,” the Beacon Center’s Director of Litigation, Braden Boucek, noted. “Every Nashvillian could find themselves in a bind where Metro can arbitrarily say you’re a short-term rental one day and a hotel the next.”

Davidson Circuit County Judge Kelvin Jones agreed in his ruling. He did, however, uphold a separate regulation that only allows 3 percent of a neighborhood to acquire a permit. (A written order has not been published yet.) So far, Nashville has issued almost 2,300 permits for short-term rentals.

The case began when Metro Nashville denied P.J. and Rachel Anderson from renting out their own home on Airbnb. The couple then partnered with the Beacon Center and filed a lawsuit in August 2015.

The Beacon Center called the decision “a huge victory for homeowners in Nashville and across the state:”

Not only does the ruling show that the Nashville City Council completely disregarded the state Constitution when it passed this law, but it also sends a loud and clear message to cities across the state when it comes to restricting homeowners’ rights in the new economy.

The ruling marks the first win for the Beacon Center Legal Foundation. Since launching its case against Nashville’s Airbnb restrictions, the Beacon Center also filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s license for shampooing hair. Under state law, “shampoo technicians” need to complete 300 hours of training before they can do their jobs legally.

Earlier this month, another start-up also secured victory in Nashville. After previously threatening legal action against Belle, a beauty and fitness app, state regulators decided to drop their complaint.

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