Featured Image Credit: Meet Charleston
It seems like the discussion of short-term rentals in Charleston has been long and drawn-out. Well, that’s because it has.
It was four years ago when short-term rentals were introduced to the Charleston area, with online platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway becoming available to the general public. Since then, Charleston just hasn’t had the resources to keep up with or deal with the influx of 2,000 short-term properties across the Charleston area.
Over the last year, the city has been figuring out a strategy on how to deal with the issue. And this past Tuesday, a new set of rules that allows short-term rentals throughout the Charleston area, but with strict rules, guidelines, and requirements was finalized.
According to the Post and Courier, some of the short-term rental rules that would apply in all cases include the following:
- Operators must obtain a special license from the city’s Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability and list the registration number on all online advertisements. They will have to present site plans to identify where guests would stay and park their cars.
- To be eligible, operators must own and live on the property full time, determined by the 4 percent owner-occupied property tax assessment.
- The short-term rental cannot host more than four adults at a time.
- Operators must pay business license fees and accommodations taxes.
It creates separate sets of rules for three different areas:
- Category 1 includes the Old & Historic Districts on the lower peninsula, but only properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for a short-term rental permit.
- Category 2 is for the rest of the peninsula, where properties have to be at least 50 years old. The class does not include the Cannonborough-Elliottborough neighborhood because it already has short-term rental rules in place.
- Category 3 spans the rest of the city beyond the peninsula, where there will not be an age limit on properties.
There will be a 90-day grace period before these rules fully go into effect.
So what’s our take on it?
We’ve covered the short-term rental topic frequently, discussing how they rid our community of that “close-knit” feeling and create issues with traffic, parking, and noise. As a local, you also have the concern of tourists integrating into residential areas.
Effectively, it makes whole-house short-term rentals illegal. Which is why we are in favor of this decision.
The only way this is now an allowable use is when the property is owner-occupied (with the property tax assessment of 4%) and the owner is physically present on-site. It returns this type of rental to its original intent, which was being able to rent out a spare bedroom to generate some extra income.
The challenge became that people were buying up houses and condos in order to rent them on a nightly basis, which meant they were operating de facto hotels. This negatively affects the availability of housing stock and drives prices even higher, meaning fewer housing options for residents (and also much higher prices to lease or buy a place to live). With these new rules, people can no longer buy houses while living elsewhere just with the intention of renting them out.
Hopefully, these stricter rules can help alleviate the issues associated with tourist congestion, traffic, noise, etc.