Charlotte could crack down on Airbnb and other short-term rentals

Airbnb is cracking down on New Years parties again, but the bigger story for next year will likely be what the City of Charlotte is trying to do to put more permanent restrictions on short-term rentals.

Driving the news: Airbnb introduced a global holiday ban in 2020 to protect hosts from disruptive parties and guests from contracting COVID. This year, the company does it again.

  • The ban only lasts one night, for entire homes listed on the NYE website.
  • If you have a history of positive Airbnb reviews, the restrictions don’t apply to you.

The overview: Charlotte executives have drafted a plan to implement permanent restrictions for Airbnb, Vrbo, and guesthouse owners.

  • The regulations are under review after numerous recent complaints about noise, lack of parking, increased litter and litter, and concerns about turning houses into “party houses,” said Laura Harmon, project manager principal of the Unified Development Ordinance.

The context: The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) implements Charlotte’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan through rules and regulations.

  • It is a 608 page document that combines eight ordinances into one.
  • Among them are rules that would limit the length of stay for tenants and limit the number of residences in a certain area that could be registered with short-term rental services at the same time.

The other side: “There are already other ordinances that will protect residents of neighboring houses to become party houses. These regulations are not going to solve these problems, they are going to make it harder for people to do it right, ”says Bryan Holladay, a lobbyist who has worked in the development industry.

Why is this important: If you plan to live in Charlotte for the next two decades, these ordinances will affect you. But, the 600-page document, which we’re supposed to read and comment on, is full of legal rules and very specific for homeowners who wish to use their space as a form of income.

Airbnb and VRBO fall under the same category: short-term rentals of entire dwellings.

  • A short-term rental for an entire unit is “a complete unit offered for rental for a period of less than 30 consecutive days”. (UDO 15-51).
  • Under UDO 15-51, a short-term entire unit rental should be at least 400 feet from any other short-term whole unit rental. In other words, if you’re in a townhouse and your neighbor is renting through Airbnb, you won’t be able to do it.
  • In addition, a “local manager” must be available 24 hours a day. (UDO 15-29)
  • No party, event, course, wedding, reception or other large gathering will be permitted. (UDO 15-29)
  • Cannot be any type of vehicle, RV, or trailer. (UDO 15-30)

Your traditional guest room gets its own category.

  • It is defined in the UDO as “a detached single family home where a resident / owner provides accommodation for a daily fee in rooms without in-room cooking facilities and prepares meals for the guests”. (UDO 15-41)
  • Customers are not allowed to stay more than seven consecutive days. (UDO 15-14)
  • All rooms must be accessible from inside the building and not from the outside. (UDO 15-14)
  • Food from the B&B can only be served to guests staying at the B&B. (UDO 15-14)

Then there is a third category: “Single room occupancy” or “SRO”.

  • An ORS is a ‘residential development where single rooms are individually rented as a permanent and / or primary residence.“(UDO 15-51). In other words, it would cover the recent college graduate renting your basement on the cheap.
  • “ORS should be limited to one occupant per room. ” (UDO 15-30)

To note : Airbnbs, VRBOs, and B & Bs are considered “commercial” use in UDO, while SROs are considered “residential”. And some of these rules already exist in the current zoning ordinance, which sets the standards for guesthouses and ORS, they just repeat.

  • The regulations are not platform specific (e.g. Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.). If the entire unit (eg, a single-family home) is rented for less than 30 consecutive days per occupant, it is a short-term entire unit rental, ”Harmon said.

The other side: “It really looks like the City of Charlotte is looking to eliminate short-term rentals by making them extremely difficult,” Holladay told Axios.

Zoom out: Other cities in North Carolina, such as Raleigh and Ashveille, have ordinances allowing individual short-term rentals.

  • The state court of appeals is currently ruling whether a Wilmington ban on short-term rentals is a violation of state law, according to WECT reports.

And after: The UDO is not yet finalized, and you can give your opinion to the city council through their website – there is a button you can click to get involved. There are also virtual events and ways to share your comments online.

  • You can comment until January 14.
  • City council is expected to vote on these bylaws in July 2022 as part of the wider adoption of the UDO.

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