Featured Image Credit: Airbnb
It’s out with the old and in with the new, the “new” being short-term rental businesses. Airbnb has taken the hospitality market by storm, helping tourists book 3,600 nights in Charleston over the recent Memorial Day Weekend, a 58 percent increase since last year.
However, the City of Charleston’s zoning codes prohibit short-term rentals in most areas of downtown, only allowing a portion of the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood to legally work with Airbnb and their competitors. These strict codes and regulations have resulted in at least 63 residential property owners being sued for operating illegal short-term rentals in the city.
Charleston is one of the top cities in the world, attracting millions of tourists annually. This type of marketplace allows for short-term rental platforms to thrive, with around 500 properties on Airbnb. Homeowners will put their rentals online, avoiding the city’s zoning rules, and then services like Airbnb will act as agents for the renters, benefitting from a percentage of the rental price.
But what’s so wrong with homeowners earning some easy, quick money? In an already heavily populated city, Charleston parking, traffic, and noise are suffering from the short-term rental company’s growth along with the disappearance of neighborhoods and growing issues of tourists integrating into residential areas. Not to mention a shortage of housing for long term tenants could result. Therefore, to avoid an over capacity and dwindling Charlestonian population, the city regulates where companies like Airbnb are allowed jurisdiction.
Often times services like Airbnb avoid having to pay for business licenses and accommodation taxes, causing issues with other rental companies and hotel businesses. But many people believe that it is ultimately the property-owners right to decide how they manage their home.
Because Charleston is such a unique city where tourists and residents interact closely, it is important to find a healthy balance of economic growth and appreciation for tourism while also keeping in mind the resident’s quality of life.