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Raleigh residents discuss balancing 'sharing economy' with neighborhoods

Posted January 5, 2015
Updated January 6, 2015

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— For Cynthia Deis, renting out her mother’s apartment through Airbnb makes financial sense.

“We have a rental property in Raleigh and my mother wanted to occupy the apartment for about half the year,” she said. “It's not financially available for us to keep it open the rest of the year.”

Deis was one of a few dozen people who attended a community meeting Monday night to brainstorm how to balance local ordinances with Airbnb’s offerings.

The app, which allows travelers to find private homes to lay their heads, shows more than 300 options in Raleigh, but they’re technically illegal. Any area zoned for residential use specifically prohibits the service Airbnb provides.

“Technically it is a violation,” said Jeff Tippett, who organized the meeting. “In most of Raleigh, short-term rentals are not allowed. So the question became should the code be changed allow short-term rentals, is how it came before council.”

Airbnb is one of many apps that is fueling a “sharing economy,” where services are offered by individuals for individuals. Uber, the popular taxi app that has had its share of controversy, is an example of such an app.

After a neighbor complained last month, city council members ordered Gregg Stebben to stop renting a room in his Five Points home through Airbnb. The city wants zoning inspectors to review the practice and study how other cities are addressing it.

Raleigh City Councilman Russ Stephenson said no immediate changes will be made city ordinances, but hopes some middle ground can be reached.

“So the question is where are we going to start drawing the line between the rules that we already have in place that permit residential rentals in the City of Raleigh as opposed to the Airbnb model,” he said.

A study on the issue will be presented to city council members within the next few weeks.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • kaya Jan 7, 2015

    Check iParkomat! Airbnb for parking spots! www.iparkomat.com

  • jimcricket15 Jan 6, 2015

    Yes change the zoning. Should not be an issue in the first place.

  • KermitDFrog Jan 6, 2015

    View quoted thread

    I'd say most cities have restrictions on short term rentals -and for good reason. Once you allow AirBnB, you basically allow all short-term rentals. Not all short-term rentals are fun-loving, easy going travelers. It's all good until your neighbor's house has a stream of "characters" in and out because they're there 'short term tenants'.

  • arfamr1010 Jan 6, 2015

    go ahead and control the yuppies...the last thing we need is yuppies coming for a short stay and deciding they too want to move here.

  • KermitDFrog Jan 6, 2015

    View quoted thread

    I'll buy the house next door to you and provide short term rentals to people just coming out of prison. After all - it's just a short term rental. They'll only be here for a month.

    Once they allow AirBnB, all short term rentals are allowed.

  • Steve Faulkner Jan 6, 2015
    user avatar

    So, did any city officials actually show up?? Or was this just an informal discussion amongst the people renting rooms?

  • skeeter II Jan 6, 2015

    Hope the owners realize that they must report the income from the rentals. They can deduct costs assocated with the room when it is being rented, including part of the property taxes and any interest paid for that portion of the building.

    This may cause the City to reclasify part of the building being rented to a different property tax class and thus more taxes. The owners should be registering with the City ( maybe in the future) or obtain the proper permits to rent the room.

  • Larry Hatch Jan 6, 2015
    user avatar

    It is no government's business what a person does with their house in terms of guests. Unless they are running a meth lab or dog-fighting, the government has no right to intervene or control ANYTHING. In these Obama years we have come to accept the elimination of basic freedoms but we need to fight against these things are every chance.

  • Lysander Jan 6, 2015

    Cities need to stay out of it! But like all government, they'll step in and regulate in "your best interest", all while raping your wallet.

  • heelhawk Jan 6, 2015

    Basically Raleigh's stance is..... we don't want you doing it unless we can get a little piece of the pie.