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Cities Tap AI to Regulate Short-Term Rentals as Travel Picks Up


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Tourists snap a photo in Nashville, TN, a city using artificial intelligence software to track short-term vacation rentals.

Cities and towns are tapping artificial intelligence and other technologies to keep tabs on short-term home-rental activity. As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic tear through budgets, some localities hope the tools can identify tax-revenue opportunities.

Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

U.S. cities and towns are using artificial intelligence to monitor and regulate short-term rentals, with some hoping to spot tax-revenue opportunities during the Covid-19 crisis.

Nashville in 2017 contracted with vendor Host Compliance to help enforce a short-term rental statute, using computer-vision software to identify features of a listing photo and find matches elsewhere online, even if a room's furnishings differ; machine learning also flags owners who might be underreporting taxes.

Another Host Compliance client, Garden Grove, CA, uses the software to cite new listings that violate a ban on all short-term rentals in residential areas.

LTAS Technologies' rental-compliance software Harmari STR employs image-recognition algorithms to identify duplicate images and listings across sites. This eases the workload for human analysts, while natural-language processing vets reviews and flags when hosts might be violating local ordinances.

From The Wall Street Journal
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