City permit section to reopen with new short-term rental rules

Columbus City Council amended the Columbus City Code to strengthen enforcement of short-term rentals and reduce the number of problematic hosts and properties.

The new city code provisions regarding short-term rentals – i.e. Airbnbs, Vrbo rentals, hotels and motels, etc. and denial.

This comes after several hearings on policy approaches and in time for the reopening of the licensing section of the Department of Public Security on Wednesday, July 22.

All new permit applicants, as well as renewal applications, will apply under the updated code.

At a hearing in June, Cathy Collins, administrator of support services at the Department of Public Safety, said the biggest complaints her office received were about loud, loud parties, loud music or occupants, and confrontations. ‘guests and parking and garbage problems.

She also noted that hosts who are unlicensed or are using a license for multiple properties and hosts who do not notify her office when ownership changes are also common issues.

The updated ordinance, sponsored by council member Rob Dorans, clarifies that only owners and permanent occupants can be short-term rental hosts and that a transfer of ownership voids the permit.

With the changes, if a short-term rental gets three service calls in a year, it could lead to a licensing section investigation – a measure the office was not able to easily track under. the previous code.

The update also comes with a new category of 311 service calls. The Permits Section, as well as the Department of Public Security, can revoke permits for “reduced quality of life” in a neighborhood. , as well as for public nuisance problems. This can happen at any time, where the previous code could only deny permits at the time of application or renewal. Calls from hosts or owners will not be counted in the total.

Much to the relief of guests, an occupancy notice is no longer required. Testimonies from hosts have suggested that the place card raises concerns as it could alert would-be burglars that a unit is unoccupied.

The update at one point also included the launch of an interactive online short-term rental public records map that included 24/7 contact information to help resolve small neighbor issues. However, several hosts and stakeholders, including Airbnb and Columbus Hosts Alliance, have raised concerns about the card leading to public protests, harassment, break-ins and squatters.

The current order makes no mention of the card, and it does not currently appear to be live.

Collins noted that under the new code provisions, the licensing section will no longer be able to issue licenses on the same day, as applications will require additional review.

The licensing section has not issued any license renewals since March 2020, creating a backlog of license renewals when the office opens later this month. As a result, there will be an unapplied grace period for expired licenses until October 1.

For more information visit columbus.gov/str.

Taijuan Moor

Taijuan Moorman is a reporter and social media specialist for Columbus Underground and The Metropreneur, covering Civics, Arts, Entertainment, Lifestyle and News and Business. Born and raised in Columbus, she graduated from the renowned Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

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