City of Southport approves ordinance limiting vacation rentals

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) – The Southport Aldermen Council has approved a new ordinance limiting short-term rentals after months of debate among residents.

The city estimates that there are currently more than 100 homes serving as vacation rentals in the city, although some residents are wondering how that number was determined.

Many of these homes are listed through Airbnb and Vrbo, as well as local property management companies.

Neighbors who support the ordinance are concerned about rowdy groups renting out these homes in residential areas.

“It’s like the Old West, especially when law enforcement has to come together and get involved in the installation of those exuberant visitors who come and stop in our city,” said Ginger Harper, a resident. . “They fight with each other and smoke weed in the streets!

“Last week we had a group that looked very scary,” said Tracy Beaulieu. “They were walking down the street smoking weed.”

Those who oppose the ordinance question the frequency of these incidents.

“Have we had more police calls? Asked Rebecca Kelley. “Are there more crimes that can be attributed to short-term rentals?” “

Some also argue that renting to vacationers is sometimes a matter of necessity, enabling them to afford their home in Southport.

“I personally used my house as an AirBnb some time ago when we had economic problems and needed to be able to survive,” said Melissa Bell.

The ordinance, approved by the council of aldermen at 4 against 2, prohibits the establishment of new short-term rentals in residential areas. Current homes can be grandfathered if they can prove that they were operating as a short-term rental before the ordinance went into effect.

Those with acquired rights must apply for a permit and renew it every year. An earlier version of the ordinance provided that a house would lose its short-term rental status if it did not operate for 180 consecutive days. It has been amended to leave room for maneuver for long-term tenants.

If a home is sold or the permit is not renewed on time, it will lose its short-term rental status.

Mayor Joseph Hatem says he believes council voted in the best interests of Southport residents.

“Having short term rentals, especially in the historic district, and having them unleashed, unregulated, is not what citizens want and they have made it clear tonight,” Hatem said.

Marc Spencer and Lora Sharkey voiced dissent.

You can read the prescription here.

Some owners say they are considering taking legal action against the town of Southport.

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