Raleigh council continues to struggle with online room rentals
Posted June 2, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The City Council on Tuesday kicked regulation of online room rentals in Raleigh back to city staff to develop recommendations.
The council last December declared room-sharing apps such as Airbnb to be illegal in the city and has been struggling since then to come up with a way to relax that stance without harming residential neighborhoods.
Airbnb connects homeowners with visitors seeking to rent a room as an alternative to a hotel stay. Opponents say such services undercut hotel taxes and present a traffic problem for residential areas, while users argue that regulations on the service impinge on a homeowner's right to use his or her property to make some extra income.
City officials have come up with several options for such rentals, such as restricting them to one bedroom per house and requiring a separate entrance or allowing homeowners to obtain special-use permits in residential areas. Homeowners also would have to register with the city so Raleigh could monitor rental activity and remit local occupancy and state sales taxes.
Airbnb last month reached an agreement with Raleigh officials to collect taxes in connection with stays in Raleigh booked through its site, starting this week.
Council members Kay Crowder and John Odom suggested allowing online rentals in specific neighborhoods on a pilot basis. But others questioned how neighborhoods would be selected and said piecemeal enforcement would result.
Councilman Bonner Gaylord said adopting a comprehensive approach gives the City Council a chance to guide the growth of online rentals.
Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin agreed that there are ways to manage the issue, noting that 300 Airbnb rentals are listed in Raleigh and only three complaints have been filed with the city, one of which was unfounded.
Still, Odom said he's concerned that businesses are being allowed in residential areas.
City staff is expected to make recommendations to the City Council by June 16, and a public hearing will be held before the council makes a final decision.