Airbnbs and other short-term rentals used as “party houses” have found their way

Illustration by Kathleen Fu

As of September 21, hosts using Airbnb, Vrbo, and other short-term rental services in Atlanta must follow a new set of rules designed to limit the lists of problems. (Editor’s Note: After this story was published, Atlanta City Council voted to postpone the start date of application of the new laws to March 1, 2022.)

What motivated this?
Last July, two people were shot and killed while being dropped off in front of an Airbnb hosting a house party in Vine City. Two months later, neighbors along the sleepy Roxboro to Buckhead road pleaded with Atlanta City Council to end months of partying (and noise complaints) by closing an 11,000-square-foot mansion that has become a party house rented on Airbnb for $ 2,000 a night. That same month, Airbnb said it started from the platform 50 “party houses” in Atlanta that did not follow company regulations. Unlike New York City, Los Angeles, and even Savannah, Atlanta has adopted a largely laissez-faire attitude to the regulation of short-term rentals. Council members felt that this had to change.

What are the new rules?
Under the new ordinance, owners of short-term rentals will now need to register with the city for a license to operate their primary address and up to additional property as short-term rentals. Hosts must pay $ 150 per unit each year to renew the license. Violations of the application of the code (excessive noise, operation of the house as a commercial place and other violations of the quality of life) are punishable by a fine of $ 500. If web hosts receive more than three quotes in a year, they lose their license for 12 months. City officials will also create a hotline where neighbors can file complaints and launch a system that notifies residents by phone, email and mail when a nearby landlord or real estate agent requests a short-term rental permit.

How does everyone feel about the changes?
Airbnb called them “clear and fair”. Vrbo did not respond to a request for comment. To assess whether neighbors are happy with the changes, check out Nextdoor soon after the law comes into effect.

Will that prevent another party mansion next door?
Initially, Councilor Howard Shook, who represents residents of Roxboro Road, wanted to create rules to limit the number of short-term rentals in zoned single-family neighborhoods. Council members have indicated that they may revisit the matter. But to expect politicians to change zoning rules – a highly political and thorny process that requires enduring a glove of public meetings and debates – in an election year is unlikely.

This article appeared in our July 2021 issue.

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