City Releases Draft Ordinance on Short-Term Rentals

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Releases Draft Ordinance on Short-Term Rentals

Posted: 03/31/2017

In advance of a public meeting next week, the City of Knoxville has posted a draft ordinance on short-term rentals, including those listed through online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

 The public meeting on the ordinance will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, at Central United Methodist Church, 201 Third Ave.

Comments and feedback on the proposed ordinance can also be emailed to

Short-term rentals (STRs), defined as renting a home or apartment for fewer than 31 consecutive days, are currently prohibited throughout the City of Knoxville, except in commercial establishments like hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts. The draft ordinance loosens those restrictions to allow people to operate STRs in either residential or commercial properties. 

Major elements of the ordinance include:

-- In residentially-zoned districts, only owner-occupied STRs are permitted. This means that only an owner who is also a full-time resident of the property can operate an STR there. In practice, this often means a separate apartment or carriage house on the same property, although people can also list spare rooms within their own home.

-- Outside residentially-zoned districts – for example, downtown and along most commercial corridors – non-owner-occupied STRs are permitted. For example, the owner of an apartment building could choose to operate a vacant apartment as an STR. One owner or entity can operate up to two non-owner-occupied STRs.

-- All STRs require an STR permit and a City of Knoxville business license. Permit fees are $70 for owner-occupied STRs and $120 for non-owner-occupied STRs. (Business licenses cost $15.) Permits can be renewed annually for $50.

-- All STRs are required to collect and remit the same taxes and fees as hotels and motels – local occupancy taxes and state sales and gross receipts taxes. (These may be paid directly by the operator or by a listing service.)

-- All STR operators must provide a contact person who can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the event of a complaint or emergency.

-- STR operators must certify that the property is equipped with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher.

-- STRs are subject to all existing City ordinances including restrictions on noise, street parking and garbage. Any complaints about ordinance violations will be investigated, and if violations are found they could lead to the revocation of an STR permit.