Atlanta City Council passes short-term rental regulations

Atlanta’s short-term rentals will soon be subject to $500 fines for loud parties after City Council voted this week to regulate the industry. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Atlanta’s short-term rentals will soon be subject to $500 fines for loud parties after City Council voted this week to regulate the industry. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Atlanta’s short-term rental properties will soon be subject to $500 fines for loud parties or other violations, after the City Council voted Monday to regulate an industry that has drawn complaints from across the city.

The legislation was approved after Councilman Howard Shook initially proposed a ban on short-term rentals, which are reserved on websites like Airbnb. The ban legislation is currently pending in a council committee and it is unclear if it will ever be considered by the full council.

Shook flooded the meeting with a dozen proposed changes to the ordinance, but five proposals failed to gain traction with a majority of the council.

One amendment that did pass was Shook’s idea to increase fines from $300 to $500. He withdrew two before a vote and three other amendments, like a proposal to limit the number of short-term rentals in each community, died on the vine.

Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet called Shook’s incremental changes “a trap.” Council President Felicia Moore voted in favor of Shook’s desire to change language in the ordinance to read “an overabundance of short-term rental units in a community introduces a commercial element” within neighborhoods.

Moore’s vote broke a tie on the inconsequential matter.

“What we did here today has no limitation … I think it’s a bad way to go,” Shook said, referring to the rejection of his proposal to limit the number of rental properties in neighborhoods. He cast the only vote against the ordinance.

Homeowners use Airbnb to rent rooms or entire houses for 30 days at most. Airbnb previously removed dozes of houses from its listings because the rentals created “party house” nuisance complaints. The ordinance drafted by Councilman Andre Dickens requires houses to be limited to two adults per bedroom.

The ordinance will also tax rentals at the same 8% rate as hotels. Homeowners will have to apply for a $150 certificate to operate rentals in the city.

The council listened to pre-recorded comments from homeowners who supported the legislation and use the site Airbnb. Other members of the public lobbied for stronger regulation or an outright ban.

Nancy Bliwise, a Buckhead resident who heads a Neighborhood Planning Unit, said the council should strengthen the ordinance with more penalties before it is enacted.

Resident David Pelton said short-term rentals give families additional income, and a ban would “cripple” the responsible property owners.

The Georgia House recently passed a bill to impose state and local taxes on short term rentals. House Bill 317 is pending in the state Senate Finance Committee.

The ordinance will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the ordinance requires homeowners to install a noise monitoring device. The devices are encouraged but not required at this time.