Cities shifting rules on short-term rentals

A number of cities have been passing new rules governing Airbnb, HomeAway, and other short-term rental hosts.

For example, Charleston, South Carolina allows property owners to rent out their primary residence, with restrictions. The new rules ban whole house rentals and limit guests to no more than four adults at one time. Hosts will have to register with the city to stay in compliance.

The city of Los Angeles, meanwhile, is considering similar legislation. The latest draft caps the number of days someone can rent out their home at 120. But qualified hosts without nuisance complaints can pay a fee to exceed that cap.

Housing activists and neighborhood groups say such bans and limits are necessary to alleviate housing shortages and ensure neighborhood stability. The argument is that some multi-property landlords operate as de facto hotels, taking much needed housing off the market. Hosts, on the other hand, say short-term rental fees help them pay mortgage and maintenance fees in costly real estate markets and point to the tourism dollars they bring to local businesses.

New Orleans, which legalized short-term rentals in 2017, has a 90-day cap for properties in residential areas, and recently limited multifamily properties to two short-term rentals each. Seattle passed similar regulations in late 2017. In Tennessee, Knoxville and Nashville have passed laws phasing out non-owner-occupied rentals, but state lawmakers are in discussions about overturning such local bans.

Local and state regulations governing vacation rentals are in flux all over the country. Before buying an investment property or marketing your property as a short-term rental, it’s a good idea to consult with a real estate attorney to review any restrictions or pending hurdles in your community.

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