The city is one small step closer to allowing and regulating short-term residential rental services like Airbnb.
The rules would allow some Raleigh property owners to rent out rooms in their homes under certain conditions. The practice is currently prohibited, but some residents already use online services – such as Airbnb – because Raleigh doesn’t enforce its ban.
Council members and staff have been discussing possible regulations since last fall when a resident complained about a couple that listed a room on Airbnb.
Draft regulations floated back and fourth between the City Council and council committees. The text change committee, a branch of the planning commission, has been reviewing the issue for the past couple months.
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After hitting a snag in August, the committee on Sept. 15 came to verbal agreements on the basic framework for short-term rental regulations. Here’s what they’re thinking:
▪ Raleigh home and townhouse owners would be allowed to rent out up to two rooms without acquiring a special use permit from the city, so long as there’s an on-site manager. Any host that can’t provide an on-site manager or serve as that manager would need to acquire a special use permit.
▪ The rules would only allow short-term rentals in apartments inside the city’s “DX” zoning districts, basically limiting them to downtown Raleigh.
▪ Anyone seeking to rent out three rooms or more, or those seeking to rent any room in a duplex or triplex would have to acquire a special use permit and pay a fee. The fee hasn’t been determined.
▪ Those who take out special use permits would have to provide parking accommodations. The committee yet to determine the specifics.
▪ All hosts would be required to install smoke and carbon detectors.
“If you’re going to invite people to your house that are strangers, you should have to buy these things,” said Eric Braun, chairman of the committee.
An Airbnb spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.
The committee asked city staff to draft an ordinance based on those ideas and present it to them at their next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 20.
“Our next meeting will have a new, fully written ordinance that we’ll probably have to massage,” Braun said, noting that city attorneys have yet to review their ideas.
If Braun’s group endorses regulations at its next meeting, the Planning Commission could review and make its own recommendation by late October.
Barring any setbacks, a set of regulations could go before the City Council for a vote at its second meeting in November, said Eric Hodge, a senior Raleigh planner.
Braun said he’s encouraged by the progress his group made because he’s eager for the city to collect feedback on their ideas.
The committee’s momentum stalled last month after staff expressed concern that short-term rental regulations, if not carefully crafted, could lead to more boarding houses.
Committee and city staff members see boarding houses as more disruptive to neighborhoods than Airbnb hosts.
Unlike some boarding houses, Airbnb hosts generally house people for less than 30 days and strive to maintain good living conditions because they want renters to post good reviews of the venue online.
The city plans to primarily differentiate boarding houses from short-term rentals based on the length of a renter’s stay, Hodge said. Boarding houses host renters for more than 30 days, while Airbnb renters would be limited to 30-day stints, he said.
Other distinctions will be incorporated into the draft regulations the staff will present to the committee next month, Braun said.
“I think we’re getting our arms around it,” he said.