Street View: Airbnbs Pose Security Issues and Raise Housing Costs | city ​​limits


Airbnb on Neil Street

Street View is a monthly column where we take a close look at development issues affecting different areas of the city.

Blu Sanders’ home in East Nashville sits on a zoning line: Its side of the street is zoned single-family residential, meaning one house per lot. Across the street is RM20 zoning, which means four houses (usually condos) per lot. When the area grew, investors bought up the condos across the street and immediately turned them into short-term rental properties – a phenomenon popularized by apps like Airbnb which doesn’t require to be presented in these quarters.

When Sanders moved into his home after renting it for five years, he didn’t expect to witness multiple shootings. But at an Airbnb across the street, which he says the host designed as a “party house,” he saw more than one.

“I called shots fired multiple times,” Sanders says. “One was just an absolutely gigantic party. It looked like a concert just came out when everyone ran away screaming. And then the third time, I had an officer in my yard, and he said he was looking for shells; he pointed to the window of the Airbnb that had been knocked down.

Sean Parker, Metro Council representative for East Nashville’s District 5 (where Sanders lives), says he’s seen “a few shootings” following Airbnb parties. “Unfortunately, the application is very difficult,” he says. “If the police show up, they focus on life safety issues, not Airbnb code violations. They make sure nobody gets hurt, nobody overdoses, things like that. They don’t really check your license status.

Sanders reported property across the street for code violation; he spoke to the police; he contacted Airbnb support several times. He says he hasn’t seen much action in response to his complaints, especially from Airbnb.

“There are no real consequences,” Sanders says. He says that when he attended Metro Council meetings on safety issues with short-term rentals, Airbnb did not send a representative. “They don’t care,” he said. “And I know they don’t, because it keeps happening.”

According to, a site that compiles and analyzes Airbnb listing data, Nashville currently has 7,733 short-term rentals. Investors own most of them, with the highest percentage held by four companies with over a hundred rentals each. Currently, Nashville only accepts owner-occupied short-term rental permits in residential areas, but gaps can cause issues with those as well.

Richard Espenant, another resident of District 5, has been living in a “party house” for a year. Espenant, a teacher, says the rental across the street often keeps him up late at night. “All weekend there are parties, but also on weekdays – I could be woken up at 1, 2, 3 in the morning to girls in cowboy hats screaming and screaming, party buses picking them up, gigantic penis balloons.”

Espenant says the owner originally listed the property as an “adult play area.” The street is zoned residential and the property is operated under an owner-occupier permit. But Espenant says the owner doesn’t live there and Airbnb hasn’t done anything about it.


Richard Espenant

Like Sanders, Espenant contacted the Nashville Metro Codes Department, police and Airbnb, initially over noise and disturbance issues — and later, when he discovered the landlord was voting in Florida, financed the home with a VA loan and had every room listed. in the rental subject to availability. Seeking help from their neighborhood association, Espenant and five others banded together to argue that the Airbnb owner was not a resident. Like Sanders, Espenant has seen little progress since his reporting: All Airbnb requires as proof of residency, he says, is for the owner to register the property as an address for their driver’s license. However, the celebrations continue. “Sometimes they’re so drunk they’re in my front yard,” he says.

The City of Nashville has issued 1,940 short-term rental permits since January 2022. In District 5, 92.3% of listings are for entire homes; 73.3% of short-term rentals come from hosts with multiple listings. Beyond security concerns, the proliferation of short-term rentals may also increase housing prices.

“The conversion of long-term housing into tourist accommodations has had a devastating effect on affordability in East Nashville,” Parker says. Since housing demand is inelastic, meaning it hardly changes as prices rise, “small fluctuations in supply can have massive impacts on prices,” Parker says. “So taking 5% of the units offline and converting them to tourist accommodation does not increase rents by 5%. … It does increase rents significantly.

While Parker says the “industry has worked to make the face of short-term rentals the neighbor with the extra bedroom or the mother-in-law’s suite,” that’s not the case for most Airbnbs. of Nashville. Citywide, owners with more than 10 listings have the highest proportion of short-term rentals; in District 5, four investors each own more than 20 properties.

The Metro Council introduced licensing regulations to tackle the number of Airbnbs in residential areas, but in April the state government attempted to pass legislation making landlord licensing requirements- more forgiving occupants. “We’ve made some positive changes, but ultimately I think for this problem to get better, we’re going to need some collaboration from the state,” Parker says.

For Espenant, the “party house” across the street had one positive outcome: getting him to connect with his neighbors. “At least we worked together – that’s really cool. I’m glad I don’t feel like my other neighbors don’t care what’s going on.

Sanders says he’s happy with how he’s seen his neighborhood grow over the past few years. he perceives it as globally less dangerous. That’s why Airbnb’s violence surprised him. “It’s like a whole different world across the street.”


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