Nags Head planners explore rules for short-term room rentals

By on August 21, 2018

Airbnb is one of the better know short-term rental sites.

With some townspeople complaining about short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, Nags Head is exploring ways to regulate vacation lodging offered in private homes and marketed on websites such as Airbnb.

The Nags Head Planning Board is looking at multiple aspects of creating an ordinance, but it would probably start out by requiring homeowners renting out rooms or entire houses to register with the town.

But before the panel does anything, it will put together a package next month and make it as widely available as possible for comments and suggestions. The idea is to encourage participation rather than reacting to negative criticism, said Planning Board Chairman Mark Cornwell.

“Everything is complaint-driven right now because there’s no regulation,” he said at Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting.

Deputy Town Manager Andy Garman said after the meeting that the town has responded to some complaints about what planners generally refer to as homestays. But regularly policing the town for illegal short-term rentals would be virtually impossible.

In Nags Head, a house with rooms for rent technically falls under the definition of bed and breakfast inns, which are restricted to areas zoned Commercial 2. The zoning generally runs about a block east and west of U.S. 158 and does not include most of the town’s permanent residential neighborhoods, which appear to be the source of many of the complaints.

Planners, who were asked by town commissioners to develop an ordinance, seemed open to allowing regulated homestays in some neighborhoods depending on what they hear from permanent residents and other property owners. But most would probably be close to U.S. 158 or between the highways.

They have watched webinars and examined how other communities have addressed short-term rentals, including Asheville. Garman said complaints there came mostly from hotel operators who said they were being undercut by rentals not subject to the same regulations.

Under consideration are definitions to distinguish homestays as two rooms or less for rent in a permanent residence from bed and breakfast inns, which would be identified as renting three or more. Entire houses for rent by private owners would fall under a different classification.

Hotels and vacation rental homes under commercial property managers would be excluded because they are regulated by existing ordinances.

Other ideas include requiring the person managing the rentals to live in the house or to stay during the time of the rental. Permitting, extra parking for renters and prohibiting signs outside are other possibilities.

The Planning Board asked Garman to come back to its next meeting Sept. 18 with a full package of possible regulations and definitions that can be circulated for public comments and suggestions. The board also discussed the possibility of a town-hall style meeting to discuss possible regulations.

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  • John

    Much as Uber and Lyft became irresistible forces in public transportation, rentals through AirBnB and other services are here to stay. Trying to “fix” the problem through regulation is rather like watching caveman try to fix a MacBook with a stone hammer.

    Tuesday, Aug 21 @ 3:36 pm
  • WombatNC

    Hopefully these entreprenuers have talked to their insurance carriers about coverage for this type of endeavor. It would be sad to see someone lose their home because of an accident on their property and not having sufficient coverage.
    John, I agree that the AirBnB’s are here to stay, but I think there should be some sort of small fee/occupancy tax (AirBnBer’s just add it to the daily rate). Their guests are using all of facilities/resources here in NH and Dare County just like everyone else who stays in a hotel, inn or rental property that pays those same taxes/fees.

    Tuesday, Aug 21 @ 5:12 pm
  • AndyM

    I just sent in my tax payment for HomeAway rentals (AirB pays deducts and pays them before you see any $): 6% occupancy tax to Dare County and 6.75% to the state (2% of which comes back to the county). 12.75% right off the top.

    Then there are also property taxes due on the property. And insurance and cleaning and other expenses.

    If you have anything left over, you get to pay State and federal income tax.

    Isn’t that enough?

    Tuesday, Aug 21 @ 11:47 pm
  • GUY

    12.75% Occupancy tax is paid on VRBO and AIRBNB rentals already.
    Income tax is also paid.
    Insurance is pad and they do cover these types of rentals.

    Just as Andy said- AIRBNB collects, holds and remits the 12.75% Occupancy tax on rentals. So actually AIRBNB is ensuring that all taxes are being paid even Income tax!

    It is interesting that people are targeting the one online vacation rental company that ensures that all taxes get paid!!

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 7:55 am
  • Patti

    All homeowners should have to be on a rental registry for a nominal annual fee ($100 for 2 years as an example) plus provide proof of residency, umbrella insurance policy and regular homeowners policy and foot print of the rental unit/rooms. It’s more
    Regulation but it does provide a tracking service and protection for everyone

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 8:21 am
  • Zak

    So Village Realty says they have 300 rentals in Nags Head. Curious if they all comply with “a house with rooms for rent technically falls under the definition of bed and breakfast inns, which are restricted to areas zoned Commercial 2. The zoning generally runs about a block east and west of U.S. 158 and does not include most of the town’s permanent residential neighborhoods”? Seems alot are on the beach road and not generally one block east or west of 158…so how’s that work? Is it because Air BnB is not connected to the local politicians? Should someone ask to see all the complaints – back up the assertion about compliants with facts not heresay?

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 8:46 am
  • Steve

    This place is oversaturated with tourists and now folks want to invite them into their home?
    Why not address the root issue instead..

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 9:05 am
  • MJ

    The root issue is folks who do not realize that this is a RESORT. if you do not want to live in a RESORT, move! If you do not like what your neighbor is doing with their property vote with your feet and MOVE!

    Airbandb is here to stay and as other folks have commented, does a better job of tax collecting and policing their operators than any municipality does.

    Would like to see how hard folks would be crying if there were no tourists. THEY are paying for your “living the dream” lifestyle.

    Wake up and get a clue.

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 2:56 pm
  • Obx mermaid

    This is really about the town of nags head’s lawyers trying to make money by making new rules so they will get paid more and our property taxes will get increased! Wake up Nags Head!!!

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 10:20 pm
  • Maslin

    Zak, I believe when the article says “a house with rooms for rent”, it means the rooms are rented out individually. Vacation rental companies like Village Realty offer the entire home for rent rather than individual rooms.

    Thursday, Aug 23 @ 1:12 pm