Local I-Team: Memphis City Council considers crackdown on short-term rentals, like AirBnB, following complaint from A C Wharton

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The Memphis City Council is considering cracking down on AirBnBs after receiving a complaint from a former mayor.

The proposal introduced Tuesday would limit the types of activities and the number of people allowed in short-terms rentals.

This week, the Local I-Team talked to a woman who said former Mayor A C Wharton used his connections to get a long list of city and county agencies to visit her home.

Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad told the Local I-Team the former Memphis and Shelby County mayor is one of several people who contacted him about changing city ordinance. Councilman Conrad wants to make it illegal for people to hold events or have more than 12 people at a short-term rental.

Monday, the Local I-Team introduced you to a Kareema McCloud who says Wharton used his connections to harass her. She said he was upset she rented out her home.  

“It’s concerning to me Ms. McCloud had to go through that process,” said Memphis City Council member Cheyenne Johnson. 

Johnson watched our story and said she was surprised to see one city and county agency after another – code enforcement, fire, police – showing up at McCloud’s house. There were more than nine visits from at least six different agencies in three weeks. 

McCloud said they started coming last month, after Wharton rang her door and questioned her about renting out her home. It was all caught on her Ring camera. 

“The people telling me they paying or something? What’s going on,” said AC Wharton on the video.

McCloud said the most disturbing thing was when a Memphis Police Lieutenant showed up at her door and said the city’s Organized Crime Unit spent three days staking out her home after receiving reports it was a brothel.

“A brothel? WTF, a brothel? That hit like that was a gut shot,” said McCloud.

McCloud said she did rent out her house to a guest who threw a party. She wasn’t home, but says when she found out, “I actually called the police and had the police come.”

Wharton denies harassing her or using his political power. A spokesperson for the city of Memphis said Wharton did not get any special treatment, that anyone can call in a complaint and all complaints are taken seriously.

Councilwoman Johnson’s take on it all? “I’m not sure why all of those other encounters had to take place? I think it’s something we need to look into.”

As for council changing the ordinance, it will go back to committee for discussion in two weeks.

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