Dunwoody bans party houses, joining other metro Atlanta cities

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department

Dunwoody became the latest city to outlaw wild house parties that became a problem in Atlanta and nearby cities during the pandemic.

The north DeKalb County city made it illegal to rent a home for the explicit intent of throwing a consequence-free party. The City Council voted Monday to allow police to fine violators up to $1,000 or throw them in jail for up to six months.

Dunwoody is following in the footsteps of Atlanta and Sandy Springs, which outlawed these raucous gatherings due to their emergence following 2020′s COVID-19 shutdown. These party houses typically attract hundreds of paying attendees, disturbing suburban neighborhoods.

“Party houses are not necessarily a problem in Dunwoody,” Madalyn Smith, the city’s senior planner, said during Monday’s City Council meeting. “We have had one or two issues previously, but this is more of a preventative measure.”

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The city’s policy, which mirrors the restrictions passed by Atlanta and Sandy Springs, defines a party house as a residential home that’s available for rent, typically through a service like Airbnb, specifically for the purposes of large, commercial-type gatherings. Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan mentioned that Sandy Springs has had no incidents since it adopted its party house ordinance.

Dunwoody created a permit system to allow for house parties to take place. However, qualifying properties must be more than 150 feet away from other residential properties, so it’s unlikely there’s a property in the city that would meet that criteria. The city’s community development director will review permit applications.

City leaders also pointed out that their zoning code already prohibits most Airbnbs from operating in the city, since a home can’t be rented out for less than a month at a time. The council also said they could tweak the policy down the road to punish the homeowners, not just the party hosts.