Advertisement
real estate

Should My Neighbor Be Allowed to Turn His House Into a Short-Term Rental?

It's a debate that is raging in all of America’s major cities.

Q. I live in a quiet neighborhood, zoned for single-family residential homes, near the downtown of a city popular with tourists from all over the world. The house next to mine sold recently, and the new owner seems to be renting it out by the night and weekend through an online lodging service. Some of the guests like to party on their vacation, which is disturbing the evening peace on our block. I’m also worried that this practice will depress our property values. Do you find my concerns legitimate?

A. I sure do, not only ethically but also legally. The debate over these short-term rentals is raging in all of America’s major cities. It’s a classic clash between different rights—for example, the right of entrepreneurial landlords to make a buck and the right of neighbors to maintain the atmosphere of their locale. In some cities, there is the added concern that investors who buy homes in order to profit from short-term rentals are pricing young home buyers out of the market. All of this calls for public discussion and compromise that respects both sides.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Some rental apartment buildings prohibit brief sublets by tenants who might want to earn extra income when they’re away. That’s the landlord’s right. Some condominium boards—acting on behalf of all the unit owners—also ban brief rentals, as well as invite condo owners to report violations they see or suspect.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

But some apartment-building owners, who control all the leases, may be tempted to plunge into the tourist rental market themselves to earn much more on a nightly basis than on a monthly or yearly lease. If neighboring tenants find this to be a nuisance, they have every right to find out whether the landlord’s practice of turning the apartment building into a de facto hotel violates local zoning.

Ditto if the house next door has become a tourist crash pad. Talk to your neighborhood association and zoning officials about whether this is allowed. A reasonable compromise might be new zoning laws that don’t ban such short-term rentals but limit their frequency.

Have a money-and-ethics question you’d like answered in this column? Write to editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at ethics@kiplinger.com.

Advertisement

Most Popular

HSAs Get Even Better
Financial Planning

HSAs Get Even Better

Workers have more options with flexible spending accounts, too.
July 2, 2020
Find a Great Place to Retire
happy retirement

Find a Great Place to Retire

Our cities provide plenty of space to spread out without skimping on health care or other amenities.
July 2, 2020
What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020

Recommended

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2020 tax year...and it's never too early to start thinking about next year's return.
June 22, 2020
7 Ways PPP Loans Just Got Better
small business loans

7 Ways PPP Loans Just Got Better

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act makes a number of changes to the popular small-business loan program. See how your business might bene…
June 5, 2020
Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business
business

Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business

If you're so wrapped up in worry about your Paycheck Protection Program loan not being forgiven, think about the worst-case scenario. It might not be …
June 5, 2020
Thinking of Selling Your Business? 2 Steps to Get the Best Price
business

Thinking of Selling Your Business? 2 Steps to Get the Best Price

Here's what could be the difference between a lucrative outcome and disappointment for business owners now.
June 5, 2020