Dothan adopts regulations for short-term rentals

Owners of short-term rentals have 90 days to register their properties with the City of Dothan now that City Commissioners have approved an ordinance regulating such rentals.

Commissioners voted on Tuesday to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to regulate short-term rentals and require a business license for owners of such rentals.

The commission also approved a three-year agreement with Avenue Insights and Analytics to provide auditing services and help identify short-term rental properties within the city limits.

While owners of short-term rentals have 90 days to register their properties, they have six months to obtain the required business license.

In addition to the $100 business license required for each property, owners of short-term rentals must pay the lodging tax, just as hotels and motels currently do. The owners will have to justify the payment of their accommodation tax when renewing their operating license each year. Failure to remit the lodging tax means the owner could lose their business license to operate a short term rental.

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Back taxes will not be required to obtain a business license in the first year.

The Short Term Rental Ordinance has been in the works for a number of years and has been submitted numerous times to the Dothan Planning Commission and the Dothan City Commission as changes have been requested and made. More recently, the city removed the requirement for liability insurance, and the three different measures were tabled at the September 6 commission meeting.

A short-term rental is a room or residential accommodation rented for a maximum of 30 consecutive days. Listings can be found on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO. Avenu Insights and Analytics will review different websites to identify short term rentals and ensure they are compliant.

The Dothan Ordinance defines two categories of short-term rentals. A Short Term Commercial Rental (STCR) is a non-owner occupied rental. A Short-Term Residential Rental (STRR) is an owner-occupied rental. While an STRR is permitted in all residential zoning districts, an STCR requires a special exception by the city’s zoning adjustment board in most residential districts.

Regulations vary between the two classifications, but the ordinance requires all owners of short-term rentals to collect information about guest vehicles and establishes a quiet period from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. It also sets occupancy limits for rentals and allows owner-occupied rentals to use secondary suites approved as short-term rentals instead of a room in the owner’s home.

A 250 foot buffer zone is required between commercial short term rentals if located in a single family zoned neighborhood. The buffer will not affect existing short-term commercial rentals as long as landlords register the properties and meet other requirements.

However, planning director Todd McDonald said failure to register a commercial short-term rental would invalidate any claim by the landlord that the property operated as an STCR before the city’s order. If another STCR checks in and starts operating in the 250 foot buffer zone, the owner will not claim to be there first.

McDonald said the short-term rental application process will be done online and should be posted on the city’s website, dothan.orgaround Wednesday.

– The City of Dothan Commission has voted to amend a contract with Lewis Construction for Phase II of Rip Hewes Stadium renovations and additions, adding $267,744 in change orders to the project. The change orders bring the total amount of the project to nearly $9.4 million.

– The Stewards also awarded Lewis Construction a bid for a project to build a new concession stand and restrooms at the Westgate BMX track. The total bid was over $1.1 million. Although the project will host large BMX events held on the track, toilets will also be available for people using the Westgate Park walking and cycling path.

Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be contacted at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today from

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