Nashville Attacks AirBnB, Redefines Property Rights

As The Tennessean recently reported, Nashville will phase out and outlaw a portion of Nashville’s rental industry. In a 25-to-5 vote, the Metro Council decided that houses that are unoccupied by their owners will no longer be eligible for short-term renting, as through Airbnb-type services. Owners who live in a house are still “allowed” to rent out portions of that house for short terms, but if one owns more than one house, the additional houses may only be rented on a long-term basis.

This hurts two main groups of people. The first injured group is the entrepreneurs who earn a living by renting additional homes through short-term rental services. The second injured group is the tourists who visit Nashville. This will drastically reduce their renting options and, of course, when options are limited, the prices of the remaining options rise. So the result will be increased consumer prices, and possibly fewer tourists visiting Nashville.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Nashville's decision also raises a serious question about property rights. Rather than banning short-term rentals altogether, the Metro Council has made a distinction between “owner-occupied” and “non-owner-unoccupied” property and legislatively asserted that people have fewer ownership rights over the latter.

This is a dark road to travel down. By dictating how individuals may and may not use their houses, the city government has literally assumed partial ownership of that property. But if the government has the power to dictate what we do with our own property, can we truly say that we own the property anymore?

Nashville has handcuffed entrepreneurs, limited tourists, and created a philosophical gray area that will continue to grow and fester. It must be stopped. Let your city council know that you want property rights protected!

ArticleJaron Weidner