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Athens City Council adopts proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals

Athens City Council adopts proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals

By: David Forster

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Athens City Council is considering a proposal that would require landlords to obtain a permit to make short-term rentals.

[Joseph Scheller | WOUB]

Homeowners in Athens can already rent their house or room using services like Airbnb and Vrbo. There is no law against it.

The proposed new system would attempt to regulate that. Inspections could be carried out in the same way as for long-term rentals and the Pass-through Guest Tax, which is paid by hotels and motels, could be collected.

Under the proposal, owners of homes located in areas zoned for single-family residences who live in the home and wish to make short-term rentals would be required to obtain a permit. The permit would not allow more than two tenants at a time for less than 30 days.

Homes that are not owner occupied would not be able to obtain short-term rental permits under the proposal, unless they are located on East State Street, Lancaster Street, Carpenter Street or Columbus Road.

Supporters of the proposal say an added benefit of the system is that it could help people struggling to afford a house in Athens earn extra money to help pay the mortgage.

“I think this provides opportunities for people with limited incomes to make buying and owning a house in the city an option if they are able to generate additional income in other ways,” he said. said Arian Smedley, board member.

Board member Sarah Grace agreed. “There are people who would be more able to afford to live in a house if they could rent a room or two on busy weekends,” she said.

Others fear that the proposed system will encourage more rentals in a city already overrun with rental properties and that short-term tenants could disrupt neighborhoods if they just come into town to party.

“When someone comes to your neighborhood for a night or two, there will be a certain percentage who don’t really care about the neighborhood,” said Jack Stauffer, who lives in the Near East neighborhood.

“You have to expect the worst case scenario because you’re going to get it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how often you’re going to get it. “

Stauffer pleaded with council members not to allow short-term rentals in areas zoned for single-family residential use.

Andy Stone, the city’s director of security services, noted that residents of these neighborhoods are already making short-term rentals in their homes. The objective of the proposed permit system is to give the city greater regulatory oversight.

“It’s happening now,” he said. “You can rent your basement for one night and you can open your oven to heat it up, to keep your tenant warm for that night, and there’s no mechanism to say it’s not. OK.”

Athens resident Diane McVey told council she had been making short-term rentals from her home for four years.

“I think the whole point for people opposed to this is to realize that there is no current regulation,” she said. “It will give the city the ability to regulate what is going on. “

Alan Swank, who will join the council in January after winning a seat in last week’s election, said he was concerned the city’s already understaffed code enforcement office might not have the necessary resources. resources needed to apply the proposed rules, for example if the landlord is actually living in a rented house.

“How is the currently understaffed code office going to know if the person is present or just the owner of the home?” ” He asked.

A public forum on the proposal is scheduled for November 22 in the boardroom.

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