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11th Hour Budget Bill Insertion on Short Term Rentals Infuriates Some

Elkhorn---A provision that was slipped into the state budget bill at the last minute has gutted attempts by Walworth County and other municipalities to regulate short-term housing rentals.

The measure continues to allow local regulations for stays of up to 7 days, but prohibits them for longer periods.  

Shannon Haydin of Walworth County’s Land Use and Resource Management office says many people in her county are upset. She notes that before web sites like Airbnb, short-term rentals weren’t that much of a problem, with owner occupied cottages and cabins occasionally being being rented out to friends by word of mouth. Sometimes a property manager was involved who'd keep tabs on places. 

That changed with web sites like Airbnb. "Now all of these transactions can happen simply with a credit card," Haydin says. "The owners never have to meet the people. What started to happen is, you know, parents renting a house for post prom and now you have 50 kids with kegs out front." 

The problem is so severe that Walworth County employees a part-time investigator during the summer months to respond to complaints.

Haydin says county officials will have to decide what to do next.

Walworth County uses zoning to prohibit short-term renting in  certain neighborhoods.  

The City of Kenosha recently adopted a licensing method. It’s unclear whether that type of regulation runs counter to the new state law.

A message left in the city attorney’s office wasn’t immediately returned.

In Green Bay Wednesday, Gov. Walker defended the new provision, saying the language provides uniformity across the state.