There’s growing tension in Nashville about the impact of short-term rental properties, such as Airbnbs or VRBOs, on both the feel of neighborhoods and on the housing market.
Now new city data confirm one concern: Most of the city’s 1,880 short-term rentals are operated by managers who do not live on site.
As of last summer, it became legal to rent out a room or an entire house for fewer than 30 days. This arrangement, when the homeowner is present, hasn’t typically raised concerns.
But that’s a small slice of Nashville’s short-term rental industry. New numbers show more than 80 percent are managed from afar or tucked into apartment buildings. The most common permit, with 900, is for a non-owner-occupied rental. After that, it’s 670 owner-occupied, and 310 in multi-family buildings.
The concern for a resident like Grace Renshaw, who lives near Sylvan Park, is a steady stream of strangers who pass through without a connection to the neighborhood, and what she sees as other types of neglect from absentee owners.
“Nashville’s law is so favorable to investor-owned short-term rental properties, that it’s featured by a lobbying organization as a model of what the investor-owned short-term rental industry wants,” Renshaw told the Metro Council at a recent hearing.
View WPLN's interactive map of short-term rental properties, drawing from Metro data. It shows owner-occupied in orange (670), non-owner-occupied in green (900), and multifamily permits in brown (310).
Renshaw made her point in a hearing about affordable housing, which raises another critique: that these rentals make money with nightly rates in homes that could otherwise be lived in affordably.
“It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to any of you that affordable housing suddenly becomes a much bigger problem in Nashville, and the long-term rental market becomes insanely competitive,” Renshaw said.
By cutting into the housing supply, the rentals have “driven up the cost for all other long-term housing,” former Metro Council member John Summers said in the same meeting.
These concerns — along with evidence of short-term rentals that are not permitted or paying taxes — have the Metro Council considering new limitations.
In fact, a estimate by local tourism officials points to as many as 3,000 short-term rentals, or nearly twice as many as officially licensed.