After nearly two years of hand-wringing, Raleigh leaders still aren’t ready to introduce regulations that would allow residents to rent out rooms in their home for short periods of time through online services like Airbnb and VRBO.
Raleigh currently has no regulations governing those who rent out their properties for fewer than 30 days, meaning such activity is technically banned. However, city leaders in late 2014 opted to stop enforcement until the council adopts short-term-rental rules.
The City Council has considered a couple of proposals since then, each time failing to agree on rules that would grant rental hosts the freedoms they want while protecting neighborhoods from unwanted disturbances. Tuesday night’s meeting yielded the same result.
The Raleigh City Council is divided over a proposal to prohibit residents in suburban areas from renting out their entire house. So council members on Tuesday voted to create a task force that will talk to stakeholders, study the use of short-term rentals in other cities and then recommend a set of regulations sometime in January.
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Each council member will appoint two people to the task force.
“One of the things I’ve heard tonight from several people is that they didn’t feel like people (with the city) had reached out to those people who are indeed using their house as an Airbnb,” Councilwoman Kay Crowder said.
More than two dozen residents filled the council chambers to lobby the City Council for fewer restrictions. The proposal considered by the City Council Tuesday night would have made Raleigh’s short-term rental rules stricter than comparable mid-sized cities like Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Durham.
The proposal to prohibit whole-house rentals in suburban areas would likely to strike a major blow to the online service VRBO, short for Vacation Rentals By Owner, which says it has 45 listings in Raleigh.
Raleigh’s rules would allow condo and townhouse owners to rent out their entire space, but limit most residents with freestanding houses from renting out more than two rooms in their home.
Residents who spoke argued that the ban would make Raleigh less family-friendly for tourists. The proposal would also limit residents from hosting more than two adults at a time and prohibit more than one short-term rental within a 400-foot area.
The idea of those restrictions is to protect residents in suburban areas from unwanted noise and traffic, Councilman Dickie Thompson said.
Thompson represents District A, which includes North Raleigh. He made an unsuccessful motion to adopt the proposed rules.
“The vast majority ... they do not want whole-house rentals,” Thompson said.
Proponents of whole-house rentals noted that, over nearly two years, the city has only received a handful of complaints about short-term rentals. Jennifer Williams, who lives on White Oak Road, said her next door neighbor quietly operated an Airbnb space for months before she learned about it.
“We’ve never had any kind of negative experience living next to an Airbnb,” Williams said.