Aim to address housing crisis for local residents
October 31, 2020
The Taos Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday (Oct. 27) in favor of an ordinance that will limit the number of short-term rentals permitted in the town – with language in the ordinance defining ‘short term’ rentals as being 30 days or less.
The ordinance creates a limited number of 120 short-term rentals, requires for an annual permit renewal and provides enforcement of penalties for any violations.
With just one public comment in the form of a written letter, there was not much opposition to the ordinance. Because the number of short-term rentals is currently between 160 and 180, the council doesn’t expect the number to come down to their new 120 unit limit for about a year.
Rick Bellis, town manager of Taos, said that the issue of affordable housing in Taos has been on the council’s radar for some time. Bellis said that short-term rentals – particularly ones owned by out-of-town investors – have played a large role in the increase in rental pricing. According to a study done by the town, “the short-term rentals are a considerable factor in the shortage of long-term rentals,” said Bellis. “They also drive up the prices.” He also mentioned that much of the idea for the decision to limit short-term rentals came from the limited availability of houses for local residents.
Bellis also pointed out that only eight of the current short-term rental properties are owned by locals. He said that the lack of homeowner presence allows for a quicker degradation of property. “If [property is] owned by a real estate investment company. They don’t see the property,” he said. “If we don’t have a local person who owns the house, then it becomes our job – or the neighbors’ job – to [take care of] the property for them.” Because of this, Bellis said they have a preference for locals, or owners “who are going to take interest in the property and manage it.”
Property owners will have to reapply in January 2021. Their applications are not guaranteed, though the council said it will essentially grandfather in the previous applicants, giving them preference.
After looking “at ordinances throughout the country to find something better,” Bellis said he hopes that Taos’ model for limiting short-term rentals will inspire other towns. The town was the first municipality in the state to get an agreement with Airbnb. “We’ve helped a lot of other towns in the state,” Bellis said. “We’re on the cutting edge.”