North Raleigh News

Raleigh holds off on Airbnb action

Airbnb users in Raleigh won’t find out their legal fate just yet. The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday passed to a council committee the contentious issue of short-term home rentals.

The Internet service Airbnb allows hundreds of local residents to post rooms for rent in their houses online, but city rules ban room rentals for many residential properties. The legality of the services came into question here after a complaint about an Airbnb-listed rental in Five Points, in violation of Raleigh’s rules.

City staff had prepared several options for council’s consideration on Tuesday. Instead of examining them, the board unanimously sent the topic to the Law and Public Safety Committee.

The committee is led by Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, who has been supportive of local Airbnb users in their quest for legalization.

The committee likely will take up the issue next month.

“What I’ve asked for the whole time is that we have a thoughtful discussion,” Baldwin said.

Currently, only owners of historic houses may rent rooms. Raleigh could consider allowing the service in a broader area while creating a licensing and inspection process, according to city staff.

Travis Crane, a planning and zoning administrator, identified a series of impacts and opportunities associated with Airbnb. The potential cons of a rental include extra neighborhood traffic, more parked cars and conflict with city rules, such as the prohibition on commercial activity in many districts.

On the other hand, Crane wrote, the services can provide more lodging for travelers, bring money to property owners and generate tax income, if legalized. Airbnb automatically taxes users in some cities, but not in Raleigh. Any local change could take months.

City action against the homeowners, including a fine, is pending while the council decides its course.