Carmel opens the door to Airbnb, short-term rental


Airbnb is back in business in Carmel.

City Council on Monday unanimously approved an expedited ordinance that regulates short-term rental homes. A year ago, Carmel notified residents who listed their homes on the online marketplace that they were violating residential zoning.

The crackdown has affected everyone, from investors to landlords hoping to make extra money to multi-millionaire Scott Jones, who rented out his mansion after moving to Hawaii.

Since then, the city has been working on a way to balance the rights of landlords who want to rent their homes on Airbnb with the concerns of their neighbors.

“What’s important is that we preserve the right to due process for people who may live near a proposed Airbnb,” Mayor Jim Brainard said.

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Now, people who want to list their homes will need to apply for a waiver, essentially a permit, from the city. To discourage investors from buying rental properties, the variance is limited to people who live in their homes. It will cost you $100 to receive the waiver for the first year and $50 for annual renewals.

Houses cannot be rented for more than 30 days.

Carmel foresees that some neighbors might not be happy living next to Airbnb rentals. Neighbors two houses deep would receive written notice and a sign would be posted on the property requesting a waiver.

A hearings officer’s decision to grant or deny a variance may be appealed to the Zoning Appeal Board.

Brainard reserves the right to allow in-town rentals for special occasions, such as golf tournaments at Crooked Stick Golf Club or the Indianapolis 500, without owners needing to obtain a waiver.

The city has been working on the ordinance since last spring, and the Planning Commission has recommended its approval. Brainard asked city council to approve the ordinance on first reading, rather than having it go through the usual process, which often includes a committee meeting and a second council meeting.

The Indiana General Assembly is considering legislation that would prevent cities from regulating Airbnb rentals, Brainard said, and he wants Carmel’s ordinance in hand to pressure lawmakers. Brainard spoke out against similar legislation last year.

“I wish I could use it with state officials and senators when they try, as they did last year, to interfere in our affairs,” he said. “It’s a question of autonomy. It’s a question of whether cities have the ability to do their own zoning or don’t have the ability to do their own zoning.”

Although the council passed the ordinance, members said they could propose changes to strengthen some regulations.

Carmel residents who spoke out on Monday were broadly in favor of the ordinance.

Shannon Minnaar said an investor bought a property in her neighborhood, Ironwood, as a short-term rental. She said some of the guests were less than courteous, including a time when she had to call the police because a car was blocking her driveway.

“We had new neighbors every weekend for four months,” she said. “I never met the owner or laid eyes on him.”

Neighborhood Jim Westbrook said it had become a safety issue, with new cars circulating on the streets all the time.

“I think it’s important that we…regulate this somehow,” he said. “I think what you’re proposing is extremely fair to both parties.”

Debbie McBroom, however, said she often uses Airbnb rentals and has had a positive experience. She said Airbnb has a process for weeding out bad customers.

“I treat the Airbnbs I stay at like it’s a friend’s house,” she said.

Airbnb became a problem in Carmel last year when the city sent letters to landlords warning them they were breaking city zoning laws and had 10 days to cease operations or request a waiver. There are no provisions allowing short-term rentals in single family home areas in the city.

People who live in apartments could continue to rent space on Airbnb and other sites, Carmel officials said at the time, because their zoning regulations are different.

The city’s planning department said 26 to 80 properties in the city are listed on Airbnb at any given time, with less than a dozen single-family homes likely to violate zoning. Code enforcement officers reviewed the listings and notified the offending owners.

Brainard had said it had received complaints from area residents, homeowners associations and hotels about problems caused by short-term rentals. Residents, he said, feared that their property values ​​and quality of life would be damaged by issues such as noise, speeding and increased traffic caused by high traffic turnover. people who don’t care about the community.

Related story: Carmel cracks down on Airbnb and other short-term rentals

Related story: Airbnb names Indianapolis as the trendiest place for 2018

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Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at (317) 444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich and to

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