11 months ago

Victory for Nashville property owners and guests

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

In an important victory for economic liberty and champagneproperty rights, today, a judge in Nashville, Tennessee agreed that the Nashville Metro Council’s regulations of short-term rentals are unconstitutional.

Among other things, the ordinance banned any form of advertising short-term rentals with signage on the property, and capped the number of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals to three percent of the properties in each census tract. Last year, our friends at the Beacon Center sued Nashville on behalf of the Andersons—a family that periodically rents out their home via Airbnb—claiming the regulations violated the Anderson’s constitutional rights. In July of this year, PLF filed a brief in support of the Andersons’ First Amendment right to advertise their home and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. In August, Nashville saw the writing on the wall, and repealed the advertising ban.   

Today, at the conclusion of a summary judgment hearing, Judge Kelvin Jones ruled that the remaining challenged portions of the ordinance were unconstitutionally vague. According to the judge, forcing short-term rental hosts to obey all laws applicable to hotels while exempting hotels from the short-term rental ordinance went too far. Even though the judge reached his conclusion in a manner different from how PLF urged, the decision still results in a victory for the Andersons, other property owners in Nashville, and everyone who uses sites like Airbnb and VRBO in Nashville.

There’s no word yet on whether Nashville will appeal, but in the meantime, congratulations to the Andersons and the Beacon Center! When a written opinion is made available, PLF will provide additional details on today’s holding.

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Anderson v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Two Nashville ordinances banned any form of advertising short-term rentals with signage on the property, and capped the number of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals to three percent of the properties in each census tract. Rachel and P.J. Anderson periodically rent out their home via Airbnb and sued to strike down the law as violating their First Amendment right to advertise their home and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Nashville repealed the advertising ban and a trial court ruled that the remaining provisions were unconstitutionally vague. Nashville appealed and PLF filed an amicus brief supporting the Andersons and all Nashville property owners.

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