Proposed changes to Raleigh's rental rules could affect companies like 'Airbnb'

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Raleigh City Council's Healthy Neighborhood Committee held a Tuesday afternoon session to discuss changes to the city's short-term rental rules. Businesses like Airbnb and VRBO fall under this category.

Raleigh is modeling their proposed policies after Asheville; which has been viewed by city leaders as "successful" with the implementation of their policy towards such rentals.

The proposed rules include:

  • Homestays are allowed as a limited use in all Residential districts and in RX, OX, NX, CX, and DX districts.

  • An annual zoning permit is required and proof of a Wake County tax account number for the applicant is required before a permit is issued.

  • Permit fee: $208 initially, $82 renewal.

  • Mailed notice must be sent at the time of application to owners within 100' and at the applicant's expense.

  • Two bedrooms (or "guest rooms") allowed for homestay use.

  • Full-time resident must be on premises throughout the homestay term except for normal day-time activities.

  • In a Residential district, homestays are only allowed in Detached House, Attached House, Townhouse building types.

  • In R-1 through R-6 districts and in a Detached House in an R-10 district, a maximum of 2 adult lodgers (in addition to their minor children) with a total of 4 adults maximum are allowed within the home.

  • Buffer from other homestays applies when a homestay is located in R-1 through R-6 districts. Size of the buffer to be determined by Council (100', 150', 200', 400', or 500' radius discussed).

  • 30-day maximum stay with 7-day gap for any one lodger.

  • No cooking facilities permitted ordinance in rented bedroom; however, could draft the ordinance to allow small convenience type appliances, such as a coffee maker, microwave or mini fridge.

  • No exterior advertising.

  • One-year revocation possible with either two criminal convictions of specified statutes (Ch. 14, Art. 27 prohibiting prostitution; Ch. 18B, Art. 3 regulating the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol; N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-71.1 concerning possession of stolen goods; N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-292 concerning gambling) in one year of occupant or owner or two verified nuisance, noise, or short-term rental violations in one year.

  • Increased civil penalty ($500.00) for initial violation.

  • Permittee must keep a list of all lodgers using facility for the prior 3 years.

  • Live-Work or "Day Care, Home" not permitted with the use.

  • The permittee shall comply with all applicable State and local laws, including those related to Fire and Building Codes, housing codes, tax payments, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Establishes that a Boardinghouse involves a rental of more than 30 days and those cooking facilities are not permitted in rented rooms within a Boardinghouse.

Raleigh photographer Simon Griffiths operates a one bedroom Airbnb rental out of his home in the Five Points neighborhood and believes the proposed rules could hurt families who generally take advantage of Airbnb when traveling to Raleigh. "If you have a family of four, you gotta get two rooms in a hotel that are $200 a night. That's all of a sudden $400 a night," Griffiths said. "For a family of four for a weekend that's $800. You could get a whole house (versus a hotel) a lot cheaper, nicer, and in neighborhoods."

The Healthy Neighborhoods Committee was made aware of 37 complaints within the past few years made against Airbnb guests. Griffiths said he's never had a problem. "I think the City Council is micromanaging this thing," he said. "I think they should let it happen. I don't see the problems that they are potentially scared of."

Griffiths and others have also noted the benefits of full-home rentals and long-term stays. "The majority of people that have come to stay with me have been looking to move to Raleigh. And they want to be in a neighborhood," he said.

Five Points resident Maggie McDonald lives near an Airbnb rental and her experience, both as a user of the service and a neighbor to an operator, have been positive. "It's nice to meet people and learn their stories who are from out of town," McDonald mentioned. "It introduces people to Raleigh in a more welcoming, authentic way, versus staying at a hotel."

The committee will continue to discuss and study the proposed rules. Their next meeting is scheduled for late December.
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