Local News

Raleigh orders homeowner to halt online room rentals

Posted December 2, 2014
Updated December 8, 2014

— City officials on Tuesday ordered a Raleigh man to stop renting out a room in his Five Points home through the Airbnb website while the city studies the growing trend of using such online services.

Airbnb offers unique places to rent in more than 190 different countries. The site lists hundreds of rooms for rent in Raleigh, and many are nightly rentals in private homes – areas that aren't zoned for conducting business such as offering accommodations.

One of Gregg Stebben's neighbors filed a complaint about Airbnb rentals in his home, prompting the Raleigh City Council to ask city staff to review the practice and how other cities nationwide are addressing it.

The findings are expected by the end of January.

Council members Mary-Ann Baldwin and Bonner Gaylord said the issue needs thoughtful consideration as a delicate balance between protecting neighborhoods and acting like an innovative and progressive city.

Councilman John Odom said he is "totally against" renting rooms in residential neighborhoods, while Councilwoman Kay Crowder called allowing the practice "a nightmare."

"This will open the door for them to lease to anyone they want, as many people they want. There is no way to police it," Odom said. "We already have plenty of rental houses, and we already have plenty of abuse even without the Internet."

City officials said they plan to send a cease and desist notice to Stebben regarding his rentals, and he will have until Jan. 31 to comply or face fines of $100 a day. The fines would increase to $500 a day if the violation continues.

Councilman Russ Stephenson asked that all Raleigh residents who rent out rooms through Airbnb be put on notice as well. City staffers said that would be impossible because zoning violations are traditionally addressed only after a complaint has been filed.

Stebben said he will abide by the city's order – "I'm not interested in breaking the law," he said. – but he said he thinks Raleigh would be making a mistake by cracking down on Airbnb.

"If we’re a tech hub or an innovation center, we can’t just turn our back on things like this," he said. "Even if you don’t like it, at least step back and objectively look at what it means for the city of Raleigh. You don’t have to like it for it to be good for the city."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Brandy Lee Dec 4, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    HUH??? I live in a big subdivision and almost ALL of my neighbors are strangers to me, and people move in and out of the neighborhood all the time. I don't get to approve who comes and goes. This is just gov't yet again trying to control our lives and what goes on in our homes. Most of these types of rentals are only for a night or two. Not long term. Furthermore, I have people stay at my house all the time, as I am sure your neighbors do, they are strangers. They just are not being charged. So the stranger argument is silly at best

  • jimcricket15 Dec 3, 2014

    "You can claim your mantle of freedom, but if Holiday Inn moved next door to your house, you'd have something negative to say."

    Yeah Freedom is just such a dated and worn out concept. Much better if we can just get to a completely Fascist State. It makes life easier. No need to worry about making ANY of your own choices.

  • Chad Johnson Dec 3, 2014
    user avatar

    Ill rent my house out of I want to. Not going to post this either WRAL?

  • archmaker Dec 3, 2014

    You can claim your mantle of freedom, but if Holiday Inn moved next door to your house, you'd have something negative to say.

  • Roger Connor Dec 3, 2014
    user avatar

    Brigand: How about the college students - I lived in one of the rooms the T.T.Lanier rented out in his house in Buies Creek. He had 3 bedrooms upstairs and 4 bedrooms in the basement with usually 2 guys per room. We respected his property, did NOT throw loud parties, and saved quite a bit over using Campbell's dorms. NCSU et al probably already benefit from this practice, the new addition of being able to advertize online instead of through the paper does not change what has been happeninig for a long period of time. The City needs to move on to something that has more significance.

  • stymieindurham Dec 2, 2014

    If Raleigh cracks down on this will they also crack down on ALL unlicensed home based businesses? I KNOW this occurs. Just go to the Secretary of State's web site and begin looking up LLC's and Corporations. You'd be amazed at how many operate right under Raleigh's nose and they do nothing about it. Not even the business licensing division in the tax office pursue them.

  • stymieindurham Dec 2, 2014

    They are doing this because of lost "hotel tax" revenues.

  • Carol Smith Dec 2, 2014
    user avatar

    Homeowners should not have to worry about strangers in their neighborhood.

  • Wheelman Dec 2, 2014

    None of you seem to understand that when you do this you are in fact running a business out of your home. It is a very different classification than long term rentals of entire homes. Even long term rentals of rooms or setting up an apartment for rent in your home are subject to zoning laws. There are zoning and other regulations that come into play when you are running a traveler accommodation (short term rental). There are safety and sanitary regulations that apply to them that are different than long term rentals. There are permits that are required that don't apply to home or apartment rentals as well as consumer and landlord rights that are different. And, yes there are fees and taxes that apply to motels, hotels and BNB's and there is no reason to demand they collect them and let the AirBNB's skip on it and give them an unfair advantage. Wait until the first "bad" situation happens with the AirBNB's and see who is wanting to blame because it wasn't regulated.

  • GALNC Dec 2, 2014

    Airbnb is great. It is just that the city is looking at lost revenue. Why did this neighbor complain?

    I have used Airbnb and found it a great option versus a hotel. I stayed in a great location at 1/8 of a hotel room. The owners were great and made me feel welcome.