Should Raleigh’s residents be allowed to rent out their houses online? Well, they already do – but the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to more broadly legalize Airbnb and similar online services.
City staff will give the council four options at the board’s 1 p.m. meeting.
Hundreds of locals list rooms for rent on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. The legality of the services came into question here after a complaint about an Airbnb-listed rental at Five Points, in violation of Raleigh’s rules.
City action against the homeowners, including a fine, is pending while the council decides its course. The council’s options on Tuesday, as prepared by staff:
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• Do nothing, limiting “bed and breakfast” rentals to historic houses.
• Move to legalize more room rentals. This could include rules about size and parking, among other factors, plus a licensing and inspection process.
• Consider requiring a special-use permit before rentals are allowed in some areas. Each would go to a public hearing, where neighbors could testify.
• Council members could make their own suggestions.
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 Raleigh. Any local change could take months.