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Indy short-term rental parties lead to multiple shootings within two weeks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Two different short-term rental parties led to shootings within two weeks of each other, highlighting a more significant problem of lack of landlord oversight in neighborhoods.

“We got woken up at 6:30 in the morning with gunfire,” said Nick McHugh, a neighbor near a short term rental on Lesley Avenue. “Later we found gun shell casings on the street.”

McHugh says he bought his house only six months ago, and neighbors have called the police over ten times for parties at the rental home. The problem has escalated so much McHugh says he stays with family anytime he notices it’s rented out for the weekend.

“It’s supposed to be rented out this coming weekend and we will not be here for it,” he said.

Two weeks later, another short term rental party that’s ten minutes down the street on Arsenal Avenue led to a different shooting.

“[Police] were already out here on the corner because the bullets had already been hitting the houses here at the corner,” said Yvonne Norris, a neighbor near the listing. “I have tenants [at properties I own] on a one year lease. But you just have to — you can’t be thorough enough in checking people out.” 

Police reports show more than 70 shots were fired during a party at the Arsenal Avenue listing.

Both of the properties had been listed on Airbnb and VRBO. Norris and McHugh told I-Team 8 that when they and their neighbors inquired about Airbnb, the listings were taken down relatively quickly.

A spokesperson for Airbnb tells I-Team 8 neither of the listings had Airbnb listings the night of the shootings. The company says they have permanently removed the Lesley Avenue listing, and the Arsenal Avenue listing is temporarily deactivated as they continue to investigate the situation.

According to Airbnb policy, parties and party houses are not allowed.

An Impact Old Southside Pastor, Jed Fuller explained, “There’s always the concern about who’s coming in or is there violence? Is there crime? But there’s also the concern of is this a neighborhood anymore?.”

Fuller has been an advocate for stronger oversight by the city and state for short term rental properties.

“Require short term rentals to register with the landlord registry,” Fuller said. “Let’s make sure that all these properties are being taxed properly.”

A spokesperson with Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office gave I-Team 8 the following statement:

State statute currently limits local regulation that specifically targets short-term rentals. However, the City has been engaged with community members regarding safety and nuisance concerns around these properties, and we are identifying ways to use our existing tools to address them.”

Still, for those like McHugh there’s only so much he can take.

“I can’t continue to live weekend to weekend not knowing whether or not I’m gonna — [I] mean a gun violence aside, am I gonna be able to sleep?”