Home share legality in your community

So I am interested in hearing of the experiences of hosts who do home share and whether you have been subjected to legal prosecution from you town and this is to distinguish between whole house vacation rental and home share in which the host is present. I will tell you our experience but it is not final at all. Regards, Curt Peterson Traverse City, Mi.

I think in most cities across the world those who homeshare, don’t have to apply for a license or planning permission unless you offer multiple rooms, making you more like a bed and breakfast and then you might need a business or tourism licence.

Those who face prosecution are normally those who haven’t applied for the appropriate license/planning permission or do so contrary to the terms of the management company if they live in an apartment.

I believe in the UK unless you are classed as a bed and breakfast or are in Northern Ireland you don’t need a licence or planning permission and therefore can’t be liable for prosecution because there is nothing to comply with.

We do home share in Massachusetts and so far no state regulations. Our town doesn’t have any either but some towns do. However, changes are coming! The legislators can’t seem to agree on regulations so there’s been delays.

I list a room with ensuite bathroom and private entrance. It’s attached to my house and there are doors in my space that lead to their space but they are locked so it’s a separate space. Airbnb does collect the occupancy tax for my state.

There is zero regulation in my town and none proposed. It’s not controversial here and I have no complaints from my neighbors. However I live is suburban type area with low housing costs, there is plenty of rental property available, lots of free street parking. It’s not a tourist town.

I would be happy to pay a reasonable licensing fee or submit to an inspection or a limit on the number of days I could rent out. I would not want to submit to anything with a lot of paperwork or onerous fees. So far as I can see I’ll be able to continue doing Airbnb for as long as I want to.

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My county has a specific short term stay regulation so I have a county permit and state business registration. I pay state sales tax and local lodging tax, just like the Holiday Inn down the street, and business property tax on my fancy washer/dryer and some furniture. I have commercial-type insurance and advertise as “licensed and insured” in my listing. I’m a CPA so I’m carefully compliant with all regulations! The interesting thing is I was contacted by another Air host in the neighborhood who was freaked out about getting a notice from the county that they needed to get a permit, what to do? So either someone turned them in or the clever county employees are figuring out who has listings.

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Yes it is in Charleston SC and the area bedroom communities are enacting restrictions. Where it is allowed mostly there is licensing required and that will be everywhere in the area here soon.
Whole house rentals have been “mostly” banned - except for one small area in DT, and the suburbs are discussing the next step.
The beaches ( except Sullivans Island) do allow rentals.
HOA neighborhoods can ban.

are they banning rentals there?

In our township just outside of Traverse City a number us who do airbnb home share (we host and are present in another portion of the house) have been told in public meetings by our township attorney that we are illegal according to the zoning ordinance and township board trustees have said the same thing. So far though they have taken no action against us. What they have gone against somewhat successfully are airbnb whole house rentals. We have had some problem rentals that have definitely caused neighborhood nuisance problems. They say we violate this wording of our code definition: "Dwelling, Single-Family: A detached building designed for or occupied exclusively by one family, " and in our zoning districts dwelling single family is a right by use. They say that since the house is not being occupied by a single family we are in violation. I believe that because the house was designed as a single family we do not violate and in the legal definition it is an “or” not “and” and that a judge would side with us.

Our Planning Commission is starting to work on a subcommittee level at some type of police power law for permitting home share. But they are coming up with some really strong/bad suggestions like inspections, limiting number of days, and distance between home share houses. It is going to be a tough fight for us but we do have a small group that is organized to push back. Regards, Curt

I am not a lawyer @curtpete or a local council planner , however, it seems clear that if you don’t have a single family dwelling, which you clearly don’t, if you are occupying the dwelling and offering STRs in a completely separate part of the property that you can try and argue your are not violating the use for which the property was originally intended. Exclusive use seems the key term here.

What does your legal counsel say about it?

I don’t see anything wrong with restrictions around STRs like inspections, limiting number of days etc.

STRs are changing the face of many tourist resorts and cities and making it difficult for low paid workers to afford to rent because of a shortage of LTR properties and for people to afford to buy. Of course this is not just the STR market but in some areas such as London, Paris and N.Y. it certainly had had a demonstrable impact. There is also the social impact of a high number of STRs in an area to consider.

Personally I try and offset the impact of my activities by offering free accommodation to young people through a local homeless charity.

Hi Helsi, thanks for responding. I realize I did not make the description of our airbnb model clear. We live in our house which is strictly a single family dwelling. Since our daughter is now gone what we rent is our entire 2nd floor since our master is on the first. So there is no separate apartment or dwelling. Yes it seems like time to obtain an opinion from a property law lawyer. Thanks, Curt