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Court Ruling Puts Clark County Short-Term Rental Rules on Ice

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by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
February 19, 2023

Clark County’s effort to comply with a new state law requiring regulation of short-term rentals is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, according to a preliminary injunction issued Thursday by Judge Jessica K. Peterson.  

A state law passed in 2021 required the county, which had largely turned a blind eye to the estimated 10,000 to 12,000 short-term rentals (STRs) operating illegally in its jurisdiction, to impose regulations.

The Greater Las Vegas Short-term Rental Association, which represents vacation rental owners and the vendors who service the industry, sued the county last year after commissioners passed an ordinance calling for licensing 2,850 units. GLVSTRA asked the court to declare the state and local laws unconstitutional.  

“We can still issue licenses,” said Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, adding the county is evaluating 11 provisions struck by Peterson to determine further action. 

In her order, Peterson wrote the Nevada Constitution and U.S. Constitution prohibit the government from enacting a licensing scheme that is “arbitrary and capricious or sets forth enforcement mechanisms that are vague.” 

Peterson noted the ordinance “subjects a short-term rental license applicant, licensee, or patron to the possibility of criminal penalties” and does not “enable a person of ordinary intelligence to understand what conduct is prohibited.”  

The judge wrote the ordinance’s prohibition on parties and events “implicates constitutionally protected activity” to associate with one’s family or friends. 

Peterson wrote the law is also unconstitutional because it: 

Requires an STR application be signed under penalty of perjuryAuthorizes the county to request any document or information for a licenseAuthorizes the county to enter an STR without notice or cause\Authorizes the county to deny a license for failure to fully cooperateAuthorizes the county to mandate any terms and conditions it deems necessaryAuthorizes the county to Impose cumulative and discretionary fines and penalties

GLVSTRA founder Jacqueline Flores said in a statement she hopes officials will fix the law and “end the war against Nevada homeowners and the visitors to our state.”

State Sen. Rochelle Nguyen, a Democrat who sponsored the state law mandating regulation as an assemblywoman, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.