Indiana bill could block Carmel’s vacation rental crackdown

An Indiana bill could prevent Carmel from cracking down on short-term rentals. (WISH Photo)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — As Carmel targets vacation rentals, companies and state lawmakers are fighting back.

Over the past year, renting out homes has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Carmel community, Airbnb said. Despite the boost, the city said Wednesday it’s cracking down.

“Your house, your rules,” Carmel resident Reshawn Bitts said. “I don’t see what’s wrong with it,” Bitts continued.

“There could be areas that are zoned to allow this,” Carmel resident Joe Gardner said. “Other areas, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.”

Short-term rental sites and apps allow owners to rent rooms. But Carmel city leaders said owners advertising for overnight accommodations must get correct zoning — and pay taxes.

“Somebody buys in a residential neighborhood, they’re relying on the fact there’s not a factory, there’s not a retail store, or there’s not a hotel next door,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said.

But some at the state house disagree. A bill would block cities from stopping short-term rentals.

“It’s terrible legislation,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “It’s micromanagement of our local zoning which we’ve done for decades in the state of Indiana,” Brainard continued.

As far the legislation passing, there’s still a ways to go. Right now, it’s only in a committee, and Mayor Brainard is not going to wait to find out what happens.

He’s told city employees to crack down on those who don’t comply within 10 days. “They have the right to give warnings,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “They have the right to write citations.”

Mayor Brainard also said they could get court orders to make people stop — actions that could bring an end to your stay at a multimillion dollar home.

“It’s a great service because some people can’t afford a night at a hotel so they go where it’s cheaper,” Bitts said. “I can understand why people in other areas, developments if you will, might not want to have b and b’s in their area,” Gardner said.

As far as other Hamilton County cities doing this, we checked in with each one.There’s no talk in Westfield while Fishers said it’s a talk that merits discussion.

And in Noblesville, the planning department is having discussions, but they don’t expect to make changes anytime soon.

As Carmel pursues this legislation, Airbnb sent 24-Hour News 8 the following statement:

     Home sharing has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Carmel community in the past year alone. Well over half of our Carmel hosts simply share an extra unused room in their homes. We would be happy to collaborate with Carmel policymakers on clear, fair rules to more effectively regulate the growth of home sharing in Indiana.”

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