Home prices in Utah rose 27% during the last year, and a significant part of the problem is a shortage of available housing due to impacts on builders from the 2008 financial crisis. A Utah Department of Workforce Services report to our Political Subdivisions Committee in May 2021 found real estate speculation helped fuel the rise in home costs and low inventory, as second home buyers and short- term rentals took up an increasing percentage of available housing. (See June 2022 Kem C. Gardner Policy Report).
Homeowners in our district invited me to meet with them in 2021 to learn of their concerns with short-term rentals in areas not zoned for rental properties. Some landlords openly advertise that they take long-term rentals, only to turn their units into short-term rentals. This practice is lucrative for the owners but disruptive of our communities, since it creates another pressure point that increases demand/price for housing and removes housing from the marketplace.
Unfortunately, the legislature passed a bill in 2017 that safeguards advertisements of short- term rentals, even when they are located in areas in cities or towns that have been designated as purely residential. I am concerned that this bill robs municipalities of local control. A Cottonwood Heights planning commission member suggested mandatory minimum fines for repeat offenders as one possible solution, which I sponsored in 2022. Thanks to this bill, our Interim working group on short-term rentals has the participation a national expert who teaches proper function of short-term rentals. Our goal is to establish a state policy that will set a good foundation for local control of these properties.
Overall, I am concerned the cost of buying a home in Utah is out of reach for teachers, law enforcement, and our children. I attended the Utah Housing Coalition Housing Matters Conference to learn about Tax Increment Financing and other programs that increase affordable housing, and I continue to study this topic. I’m grateful for the work of experts in this field and the opportunity to learn from them
30% of Utahns rent their housing. I support legislation that keeps landlords whole and also protects tenants, many of whom pay up to 50% of their income on rent. I am one of the co- leaders of a working group to address recommendations on an important Utah Bar Foundation report on debt collection, courts, and evictions in Utah.