The Center Square

Nevada Short-Term Property Owners Take Case to Supreme Court

September 14, 2023

(The Center Square)—An industry group that advocates for short-term rental owners is taking its lawsuit against Clark County’s regulations to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Greater Las Vegas Short-Term Rental Association, which filed its case to the court last week after filing a notice of appeal in March, argues Clark County’s short-term rental ordinance and state law are unconstitutional and violate private property rights. Among the group’s issues with the ordinance are a section that allows county officials to inspect a property without a notice or cause, a prohibition against parties and events, and required video recordings of renters entering and leaving properties.

Several sections of the ordinance were halted after a Clark County District Court judge in February approved a preliminary injunction saying they are “facially unconstitutionally vague and/or overbroad.”

Some short-term rentals around the county have reportedly hosted parties that became a nuisance and in some cases have ended in gunfire.

Two nonprofit legal groups, Arizona-based and the Liberty Justice Center, on Wednesday filed an amicus brief in support of the short-term rental group with the Supreme Court.

“The County’s ordinances draw an arbitrary line between these equally ‘residential’ property uses, treating people’s homes as if they were workplaces, and imposing warrantless searches and surveillance mandates on these residences and restricting the freedom of speech of property owners who let people stay in their homes, and even prohibiting ‘parties’ which would be allowed to people who rent a house for thirty-one day,” the brief argued.

Goldwater Institute Attorney Timothy Sandefur called the regulations “really intrusive” and “pretty outrageous” in an interview with The Center Square.

“They require property owners to basically snoop on the people who rent these properties,” he said.

For example, Sandefur said homeowners are expected to record the renter’s financial information and hand it over to the government, install cameras on the outside of the houses to record people coming and going, and then turn those videos over to the government without any kind of warrant or probable cause.

“The ordinance also prohibits parties defined as any gathering attended by more than two people per bedroom in the house or 10 people max,” he said. “So, in other words, if you rent out a two-bedroom house, you’re not allowed to have more than 4 people present in the house to attend a gathering.”

A homeowner would be allowed to do that if someone was renting the property for more than 30 days, according to Sandefur.

“Then you can have 50 people in the house,” he noted. “Heaven forbid you have Thanksgiving dinner in a rented house in the Vegas area that you have rented out for two weeks or something like that because that is against the law.”

Clark County Assistant District Attorney Timothy Allen told The Center Square his office cannot comment because of the pending litigation. The Clark County Board of Commissioners did not immediately respond to The Center Square’s request for comment.

Briefs are still being filed in the case, and the Nevada Supreme Court will at some point hear oral arguments before issuing a decision.