Airbnb owners respond to new short-term rental policy in Santa Fe

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Airbnb owners up in Santa Fe County aren’t very happy with a new ordinance that passed Wednesday night, putting a pause on licensing any new short-term rental properties. 

Santa Fe County commissioners say this move will protect the long-term housing stock up in Santa Fe, but many property owners aren’t convinced it will help as much as the county says it will. 

The ordinance says any property bought after Nov. 26, 2022 will not be eligible to become a short-term rental property for another year. But, if you currently have a place you want to turn into an Airbnb, you only have until March 15 to get it licensed through the county.

“We are real frustrated,” Stella and Jack Shelburn said.

They have an Airbnb in Santa Fe County up near Pojoaque.

“Folks up here, their parents have passed away, then they have taken those homes and made them an Airbnb as we did,” Jack explained.

It’s an adobe house that has been in their family for generations but they don’t live there, so they rent it out. After reviewing the new ordinance and finding out how much an Airbnb license will cost them – Jack and Stella became more frustrated

“They have also set up a fee of 375 dollars a year for a business license for the Airbnbs and typically a business license in this part of the world is 35 dollars,” Jack said. “We have a mobile home park and a beauty salon and both of those are 35 dollars a year.”

Jack and Stella have run their Airbnb for more than a year without issue. Now, they are saying the county is the one causing the issues.

“Why should we have to ask permission to do what we want to do with our property it just doesn’t make sense?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know what our legal outcome will be or if we have a case it’s just crazy what they are trying to do,” Stella added.

So KOB 4 asked a UNM law professor who specializes in property law – is Santa Fe County allowed to pass an ordinance like this? Restricting what people can do with their property?

“The short answer is yes, yes they can and they do. In some ways, that is the county’s job is to make regulations to protect the public’s health safety and welfare by regulating land use and business activity,” Dr. Elizabeth Elia said.

Elia went on to say Airbnb falls under both of those categories. They are businesses in residential areas so when she looked over the moratorium, she said it is fully legal for the county to pass ordinances like this.