The city has crafted a proposed policy that would legalize short-term home rental services such as those available through online company Airbnb.
The draft ordinance would allow Raleigh property owners to rent out rooms in their homes to paying strangers, which is currently prohibited in most neighborhoods.
The city council has spent months wrangling the details of how to allow short-term rentals, which already happen throughout the city. The council likely will consider the draft at its July 7 meeting and decide whether to send it for review to the planning commission.
The ordinance would define short-term as less than 30 days, limit rentals to a maximum of two bedrooms in residential districts and prohibit cooking facilities in bedrooms.
Property owners who want to rent additional bedrooms in a residential district could apply for a special use permit.
One idea that had been floated for the ordinance was to require property owners to reside in the house they rent for a short term. But city staff said in a report that the requirement cannot legally be included.
Councilman Bonner Gaylord said earlier this month that the policy is needed to catch up with what’s happening in the city. On the Airbnb website, for example, visitors can browse scores of local rentals.
“This is happening now and will continue to happen. This is an opportunity, I think, to guide some of this activity and shape it,” he said before the council directed staff members to develop the policy.
At the meeting, several members of the council suggested it may be worth piloting the ordinance in certain neighborhoods before rolling it out city-wide.
The short-term rental debate started last fall, when the city considered fining a couple who had listed a room on Airbnb, because of an anonymous complaint. City officials decided to hold off while considering a new policy.
The company’s supporters have been vocal proponents of legalizing short-term rentals, saying they bring visitors to the city, provide income for property owners and could increase revenue for the city.
Airbnb has said it will begin collecting and remitting sales taxes in North Carolina, as well as hotel occupancy taxes in certain counties.
Detractors say short-term rentals bring additional traffic and business activity in residential neighborhoods and harm traditional rentals, such as bed-and-breakfasts.
Councilman John Odom said he is concerned the policy could open the door to abuse by absentee landlords.
“If we’re not very careful we could actually destroy some neighborhoods,” he said.
City attorney Tom McCormick said that if the council does not act, Raleigh will have an obligation to enforce existing rules about short-term rentals.