Sandy Springs considers new restrictions on Airbnb, short-term rentals

Sandy Springs is considering enforcing restrictions on the operations of Airbnb and other short-term rentals. The council is mulling over a vote.

Credit: Dreamstime/TNS

Credit: Dreamstime/TNS

Sandy Springs is considering enforcing restrictions on the operations of Airbnb and other short-term rentals. The council is mulling over a vote.

The city council in Sandy Springs will continue to mull over enforcing more restrictions and regulations against the operation of Airbnb and other short-term rentals in the city.

During a meeting on Jan. 2, assistant city manager Jim Tolbert gave a presentation outlining the positive and negative impacts that short-term rentals can have on the city, and recommended modifications to the city’s current code. The city currently allows short-term rentals with some restrictions in some residential areas.

The council did not make a vote on short-term rentals at the meeting, but minutes from it show that discussion over short-term rentals will move to a future council meeting.

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If the city adopts the recommended changes presented by Tolbert, it will:

• allow only permanent residents to operate short-term rentals.

• require that the host be present while renters are staying.

• disallow short-term rentals in subsidized housing.

• require hosts to post local noise ordinances

• require the registration of short-term rental units.

The city defines short-term rentals as rentals of residential units for a period of less than 30 days. In recent years, renting through websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and Craigslist have taken off as an alternative to hotels. Sometimes, renting an Airbnb can be cheaper and offer features that hotels don’t.

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In 2015, nearly one out of three travelers in the United States stayed in a privately owned short-term rental, a 24 percent increase from 2010, according to data Tolbert presented. According to Airbnb, nearly 7,000 Georgia residents used their homes as short-term rentals to make extra income in 2016. In 2017, there were 211 Airbnb units operating in Sandy Springs.

The city’s study showed that short-term rentals like Airbnb can provide additional income to residents, generate additional spending at local shops and restaurants, and generate tax revenue. But the city also says that short-term rentals can displace long-term tenants, alter the character of a neighborhood and raise parking, noise, safety, trash and other concerns.

The presentation brought forth by Tolbert can be viewed in full on the city's website. The next city council meeting is set for Jan. 16.

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