Judge finds Nashville short-term rental law unconstitutional

Davidson County Circuit Judge Kelvin Jones ruled Friday that Nashville’s city ordinance regulating short-term rentals, as offered through such online companies as Airbnb, is unconstitutional, reports The Tennessean.

Jones agreed with Metro Attorney Catherine Pham that the ordinance’s 3 percent cap on non-owner occupied rentals in a neighborhood did not violate equal protection laws and said the law created a monopoly, but one that was permissible because it was for the well-being of citizens.

But on the issue of vagueness, Jones said there was no way an ordinary person could understand the statute, and specifically how it interacted with laws and codes related to hotels, and deemed it unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was brought by the Beacon Center of Tennessee on behalf of homeowners denied short-term rental permission by city officials. Beacon promptly issued a press release celebrating the judge’s decision. It’s below.

News release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Today, the Beacon Center scored a huge victory when it won the very first lawsuit filed by its Legal Foundation. The judge ruled that the city of Nashville’s Airbnb law is unconstitutional. This lawsuit, challenging Airbnb regulations, was the first of its kind anywhere in the nation.

The Beacon Legal Foundation filed the suit last year on behalf of Nashville homeowners P.J. and Rachel Anderson.

Beacon Litigation Director Braden Boucek stated, “We are ecstatic about today’s ruling by Judge Kelvin Jones. It was a huge victory for homeowners in Nashville and across the state. Not only does the ruling show that the Nashville City Council completely disregarded the state Constitution when it passed this law, but it also sends a loud and clear message to cities across the state when it comes to restricting homeowners’ rights in the new economy.”

Beacon CEO Justin Owen went on to note, “This is an enormous first victory for the Beacon Legal Foundation. Today’s ruling shows that we will be a force to be reckoned with as we continue to protect the rights of all Tennesseans against overreaching state and local governments.”

Boucek finished by saying, “Today was a great day for the Anderson family, Beacon Legal Foundation, homeowners, and most importantly the Constitution.”

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