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No Place Like Home

Planners hear from public on short-term rentals


Owners of short-term rental properties on Sept. 30 told Fayetteville city planners they support updating code as long as regulation won’t punish or hinder responsible operations.

Many in the audience of about 50 identified themselves as owners of a short-term rental property. About five said they rented out a room in their house, while the rest said they owned an entire structure they rented out.

City planners estimate 500 to 600 short-term rental properties operate in the city. The properties are listed on sites such as Airbnb or Vacations Owner By Rental. The city classifies a short-term rental the same as a hotel in city code.

That means short-term rentals are illegal in most zoning districts, except in commercial or mixed-used districts where hotels are allowed. Planning Director Andrew Garner said the city wants feedback on how to craft a proposal to eliminate that technicality.

“I think that’s where we’re heading, is actually opening up the codes to allow for short-term rentals,” he said.

Several owners in the audience said they have a financial incentive to keep their properties nice and maintain order. They acknowledged the impact to neighborhoods, saying they reach out to neighbors. Renting a home in the short term also is often more profitable and easier to manage than a long-term rental, some said.

A handful of residents spoke as concerned citizens, most of whom related problems they encountered with short-term rental properties getting out of hand with parties or unbridled parking. The meeting at City Hall was open to the public, not just for short-term rental owners.

Kelsey Caja said he lived in Chicago for about four years before moving back to the city. He worked in real estate while he lived in Chicago.

The Chicago City Council enacted an ordinance two years ago heavily regulating short-term rentals. All units must be registered with the city or face the possibility of fines up to $1,500 per day, according to the Chicago Tribune. Caja said he noticed the measure effectively discouraged many property owners from wanting to rent out their spaces in the short term at all.

Caja said in his view short-term rentals can lower the affordable housing stock of a city, such as in Chicago. He worried the same thing could happen in Fayetteville. Rental rates have already gone up significantly over the last few years, he said.

“It’s basic supply and demand,” Caja said.

Ruth Teague and Lynn Mosesso own a single-family home they rent out with Airbnb in a neighborhood near Mission Boulevard and Crossover Road. They heard concerns about the overall effect to the city’s affordable housing, but said the 500 to 600 rentals account for a small percentage of all the homes in the city.

The system is largely self-regulating, the pair said. Airbnb in particular includes a list of parameters for owners to consider, they said.

The city needs to change the zoning code so short-term rental owners are in compliance, as long they aren’t a bother to neighbors. They hoped the city won’t over burden property owners who haven’t caused issues in their neighborhood.

“We’ve had couples come in who eventually want to live in this community,” Mosesso said. “They want to come back and they want to get a good feel for Fayetteville.”

Roselie Conley lives in a condominium on Lafayette Street that has multiple units, some owner-occupied and some rented out. She said the building had an issue when one of the owners rented out a unit to two college students who held a raucous party.

The building has a property owners association, but there’s nothing in the covenants addressing short-term rentals. Buildings like hers with multiple units are especially challenging to regulate, Conley said. People in surrounding units have a right to know if one is being leased on a short-term rental site, she said.

Development Services Director Garner Stoll said at least one more public meeting is planned after the staff drafts an ordinance that the City Council will consider.


Web watch

For more information on Fayetteville’s proposal to regulate short-term rentals, and to provide feedback, go to:

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