New bill takes aim at Lexington's short-term rental rules

House Bill 824 would change how the city can regulate short-term rentals

LEXINGTON, Va. – New legislation introduced this month has city leaders in Lexington wondering why the bill targets their town.

Delegate Barry Knight, who represents Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, introduced House Bill 824. The bill aims to amend the short-term rental ordinance for the city of Lexington.

"I'm not sure why he's so concerned about what's going on in Lexington, " said Lexington Mayor Frank Friedman. "I'm still not clear and I've had no conversation with him. As far as I know, no one from the city of Lexington has had any communication with him as to why he introduced this bill."

Lexington's short-term rental ordinance concerning rentals in residential areas passed within the past six months. It allows short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, under certain conditions.

HB 824 calls into question the legality of Lexington's ordinance.

"It seems that if we were afoul of state code that the Attorney General would contact us on not conforming with the state code instead of legislative action," Friedman said.

Ten News reached out to Knight's office and is awaiting a response.

The Virginia Realtors Association also backs HB 824, saying “Simply put, the City of Lexington passed a short-term rental ordinance that violates state law in a number of different ways." In a statement, Jay Mitchell, president of Virginia Realtors, went on to say the city of Lexington's regulations violate state law by its definition of a short-term rental and by requiring people who operate short-term rentals to get a business license, among other things.

In a newsletter to his constituents, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds, who represents Lexington, said he's working to bring everyone involved with this issue together to find a resolution.

Friedman said the city is confident its ordinance is legal.

"The idea that one delegate in another part of the state wants to amend an ordinance across the state seems to be an extreme act," Friedman said.

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