Short-term rental clash in Des Moines

By Lee Rood

Des Moines, unlike some other cities, has yet to update city code to regulate, enforce or tax short-term rentals like Airbnb, Couchsurfing and VRBO.

But as more of those rentals pop up around the metro — and conflicts arise like the one that has menaced Rick Heggen and his neighbors near Beaverdale — city officials are being asked to take action.

Heggen’s question this month to the Register’s Reader’s Watchdog: “How is the city going to improve housing for short-term visitors, and regulate the new segment of rentals coming online?”

The growing presence of short-term rentals has raised questions for Des Moines, Waukee, West Des Moines and other cities across Iowa.

Like Uber and food trucks, short-term rentals have become a force in the new economy, compelling public officials to figure out how to handle such issues as regulation, competition and fairness.

Heggen claims that one disgruntled neighbor essentially turned other neighbors and the city against him, forcing him to end the online bookings that helped pay his mortgage. Now, he says, he’s being forced to sell his house.

Read the full Des Moines Register article here.

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