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Board bans short-term rentals, agrees to revisit regulation ‘down the road’

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Collierville leaders officially banned short-term rental services like Airbnb on Monday night but left the door open to amend the ordinance at a later date once more research is done to determine the best way to regulate the growing travel trend.

Board members voted unanimously to prohibit residents from renting out their houses for a period less than 30 days in order to prevent “transient occupancy” and to “preserve the integrity of Collierville neighborhoods.”

Bed and breakfast homestays will not be affected.

Assistant Town Administrator Athanasia Lewis said the ordinance can be amended at a later date if the board wishes to regulate short-term rentals rather than restrict them entirely.

“I don’t know that I’m ready to regulate,” Alderman Maureen Fraser said. “I’m going to support this tonight in order to prohibit short-term rentals but I am open to looking at possible regulation down the road if it is beneficial to the town and the tax payers.”

Alderman Billy Patton agreed.

“We are banning this until we can come up with a solution to write some form of ordinance managing it,” he noted.

“Short-term rental properties are becoming increasingly popular because they provide alternative lodging options,” wrote Lewis, “which are different from traditional hotel/motel establishments.

“Preserving the integrity of Collierville neighborhoods is one of the town’s highest priorities and allowing uses that are fundamentally unregulated and unsupervised compromises the quality of life for our residents,” Lewis continued.

The ordinance states that short-term rentals threaten the “high quality of life in the town’s neighborhoods.”

Sheila Thomas, who operates a short-term rental on W. Poplar Ave. via the Airbnb platform, has been an outspoken opponent of the ban.

She was in attendance Monday night but limited her comments to simply ask the board to begin researching methods to manage rentals.

Last month, she noted that there are currently three providers of short-term rentals in Collierville.

“All three of us are very different,” she wrote to The Independent. “Our homes are different and are in different parts of Collierville. Our goal is to work with the town to move towards regulating, not prohibiting.”

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