City leaders on Tuesday could adopt regulations that would allow some Raleigh residents to rent out rooms in their homes for short periods of time.
But some people say the proposed rules are too strict and are lobbying the Raleigh City Council for greater proprietary freedoms.
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 proposal going before the City Council at its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday sets different rules for residents depending on where they live and the type of property they own. Under the proposal, residents citywide could rent at least two rooms of their home.
Critics are upset the proposed rules don’t allow owners of freestanding houses to rent out their entire home, potentially boxing the online service VRBO out of the city. VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. The rules would also affect Airbnb, short for air bed and breakfast.
If the rules are adopted, Raleigh would have stricter rules than other comparable cities such as Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Durham. Nashville and Durham allow property owners to rent out their entire homes. Austin allowed whole-house rentals until February, when the city placed a moratorium on such rentals after receiving noise complaints.
“Banning service providers, which positively impact our economic bottom line through everyday citizens’ entrepreneurial spirits, is a direct slap in the face to our budding tech community here and further exposes our city’s inability to be a leader which sets the precedence,” Miller said.
As of Monday, a petition on the website DontBeStupidRaleigh.com had more than 1,300 signatures asking the City Council to rethink the proposal.
The council has quibbled over proposed regulations for nearly two years. Most recently, council members in June hit an impasse after a rare 4-4 vote on a similar proposal that also would have banned all property owners from renting out their whole property.
The proposal going before the council on Tuesday is slightly looser, allowing condo and townhouse owners to rent out their entire property. Mayor Nancy McFarlane says the goal was to accommodate tourists while protecting suburban residents from unwanted noise, traffic and uncertainty.
“What we were hearing was that people in neighborhoods wanted the reassurance of knowing who was occupying the house next door,” McFarlane said. “With this, you have the some continuity.”
To further protect neighborhoods, the proposal prohibits more than one host house within 400 feet of another.
Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, who’s running for North Carolina Labor Commissioner, said the whole-house ban and 400-foot rule are onerous. Meeker said his neighborhood, Boylan Heights, has at least three short-term rental hosts.
“The 400-foot rule would eliminate one of those and there’s no reason for it. It’s been operating for a couple years without and no one’s ever had any problems,” Meeker said. “The council needs to be flexible and allow the Airbnb business to flourish in our city as it does in so many other progressive cities.”