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  • Sharon Gillespie

Data on Short-Term Rentals

Almost all of us have heard of Airbnb, VRBO and some of the other popular sites to rent a place to stay on vacation that isn’t a typical hotel. They have been popular for many years as a way of saving money and providing flexibility on locations and types of accommodations.

You may have heard some nightmare stories about these types of accommodations too. While not all fall into these problem areas, many are plagued with property destruction, loud parties, trash not handled properly, increased traffic, and parking issues to name a few. Cities and towns have begun to implement stricter regulations to help curtail these issues, and some have helped.

There are a million differing opinions on Short-Term Rentals (STRs) as it has become a very emotional topic regardless of which side you are on. We would like to offer some facts. These were obtained from two primary sources:

  • Granicus: a digital platform for civic engagement and information

  • University of Utah: Kem C Gardner Policy Institute

Data on STRs in the Area and Utah

Number of STRs, 2021
Number of STRs, 2021

  • Washington county has the third largest number of STRs in the state representing 14.9% of the total 2021 listings. STRs in WA County is estimated at 5,552 making up 3.4% of Washington County’s housing stock. The top 5 cities in Utah for STR listings include St George. St George has 976 STRs in 2021 the 4th highest. Listings increased 14% from 2020 to 2021 (Kem Gardner Policy)

  • Utah has experienced a 39.4% increase in STRs over the past 4 years. Predominately houses 40% and apartments 37%.

  • Ivins has 1704 current or in development STRs

    • Red Mountain = 108

    • Crescent Moon = 10

    • Movara = 40

    • RV Resort = 136

    • Movara Villas = 20

    • Encanto = 30

    • Sentierre = 98

    • BDR = 1233

    • Tuacahn Suites (2 months of the year = 29

  • We have a population in Ivins of 9000 (Approx.)

  • There is not a lack of hotels in the surrounding area.

  • Santa Clara Offers a minimum 300 STRs including Arcadia, Paradise Village and 120+ Airbnb Rentals listed. These are the ones that can be qualified.

Less Long-Term Rentals: Tourists are using up space that otherwise might be used for living. (Granicus) This is especially strong in areas already facing housing shortages such as the St George Area. They also stated that this scarcity can contribute to increasing housing and rental prices. Also, can result in a lack of consistent rental income, higher operating costs due to ease of financing and lower tenant turnover. WA County Commission cited a statistic that every 10% increase in STRs local area leads to a 42% increase in rents.

  • Kem Gardner Policy Blog: Initially these were lauded as income-generators that allowed residents to rent out their personal space. However, they have now generated controversy as neighborhood disruptors and key contributors to local and employee housing shortages

  • Kem Gardner Policy Institute: Academic research indicates a relationship between increasing STR supply leading to a decrease in affordability and housing options as supply is occupied by visitors rather than full-time residents.

  • Increase in the state of 26.8% in two years in 2021

  • Entire homes are the most popular rental. Increase from 12,000 in 2019 to 17000 in 2021 at the same time private room listings declined

  • Growth of STR’s concentrated in 5 counties (Washington County being one) that accounted for 2/3 of the growth between 2021 and 2022

No Airbnb? City Council tells us “We will have a single Management Company managing all aspects of the STRs“

  • Granicus tells us that ”STR Property listings are spread across 100’s of different websites.” If an individual googles STR in the St George area – over 20 sites pop up – just on the first page. The alleged Property Management Company will have to post on these sites as well. They go on to say that “manual Tracking and Enforcement can be a nightmare.” Additionally, all these sites manage tax revenue differently. How will this accurately be tracked?

Illegal STRs/Missed Tax Revenues: property owners working around the rules to control cost and rental dollars coming directly to them. “Difficult to address illegal STR’s” Property owner claims – “it is my mother-in-law staying there”. In locations where they tried to implement fines, they are not feared as they are seen as a “cost of doing business.”

  • Utah law constrains local regulatory agencies such as city and county governments from using vacation websites (Airbnb) to find and shut down unlicensed rentals

  • Encanto is only 30 units versus 500+ this council is considering.

Traditional Lodging Partners:

  • “STRs are considered disruptive for the traditional lodging Industry”

  • “They offer unfair economic advantages in two distinct ways: 1) STRs don’t have to pay for staff and are not regulated like hotels which increases costs.2) This allows STRs to offer lower rates and are a threat to the hotel industry.

  • A study by scholars at Boston University and the University of Southern California showed that even lower-end hotels in Texas are suffering from the increase in STR listings.


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