Featured Image Credit: The Cassina Group
Short-term rentals have been a hot topic of debate in Charleston in the last couple years. Progress has been slow from the group tasked with crafting a new set of rules to govern the short-term rentals across Charleston. But now the 18 member group has been working on a proposal of what they’d like to see in a new ordinance that they will present to the city’s Planning Commission later this year.
Many of the short-term rentals in Charleston have been operating illegally under the current rules, therefore the Short-Term Rental Task Force needs to decide who should and who should not be allowed to rent under their new proposal. They are on a time crunch and hope to get the new recommendations for the proposal straightened out and ready to send to Planning Commission by September of this year. City Planner Jacob Lindsey told the task force that it might not be sent until October as they have to process the new proposals and make an ordinance draft.
Right now, short-term rentals in Charleston are allowed only in commercially zoned portions of the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood. However, this restriction has not stopped property owners in other sections of the city from participating in short-term rentals. The task force arrived at an agreement that those hoping to receive a short-term rental allowance should call the rental property their primary residence. However, they are still in disagreement on what a primary residence constitutes.
One of the members of the task force, Ann Hester Willis, suggested that a person is only allowed to rent out a portion of their home after residing in their property for at least 275 days. Another suggestion to verify owner occupation would require the rented property to be listed as a primary residence on the resident’s tax forms. The task force members also proposed that the owners must be at their home during short-term rentals. They were also able to reach an agreement on setting a limit on the number of guests allowed in a short-term rental. However, debate over what constitutes a unit and parking requirements followed.
The task force is set to meet again on August 8th and an additional meeting is in the works to focus solely on the feedback from the community. A major concern of local Charlestonians with short-term rentals is that the sense of community and neighborhoods will be lost with so many different people coming in and out, losing consistency.
The final topic of debate on Tuesday was how old a home can be to serve as a short-term rental? According to Kristopher King, the executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, federal guidelines state that a property must be 50 years or older to be considered historic. A task force member suggested that a three-year timeframe be used before short-term rentals are allowed on the property. While no specific age was decided, concerns were raised that the higher the age requirement, the more rentals that would be sidelined in the city. Locations like James Island and Johns Island would not meet these age requirements and some of the most supportive areas of short-term rental would be excluded.
The big increase in short-term rentals in Charleston has most definitely had a big impact and effect on the city and the community. It will be interesting to see what the task force comes out with after their meeting on August 8th and how the public will react.