Sewickley plans to regulate short-term rental properties, draft order drafted

Sewickley officials are considering passing regulations for short-term rentals in the borough.

These rentals are defined as being less than 30 days.

Council voted Tuesday night to approve the publicity of an ordinance that would require anyone operating such a property to hold a license and be subject to various stipulations.

The proposed ordinance requires short-term rental properties to be registered with the borough and undergo an inspection to ensure they comply with borough codes.

There would be a $100 application fee and a $100 inspection fee.

Enforcement would be good for one year and inspection for three years.

Applicants must be up to date with their property taxes and liability insurance.

The lessor must be at least 21 years old, own no more than three buildings for short-term rental in the borough and not have had a permit or operating license for short-term rental revoked in the last two years preceding the date of the application.

A local contact person should also be available at all times in the event of an emergency.

Council President Cynthia Mullins said the proposed ordinance is something the borough has been working on for about three years.

“The interest in doing something about it kind of grew based on citizen feedback, and then the incident on the north side accelerated that process,” Mullins said. “We need to know where (the short-term rentals) are and who operates them. It’s a way to keep an eye on this process and preserve the character of our neighborhoods.

Several residents at previous meetings had lobbied for the council to come up with rules and regulations for rentals, citing the mass shooting on Pittsburgh‘s North Side on April 17.

Two teenagers were killed and eight others were shot and injured in an early morning shooting at a party at an Airbnb rental on Suismon Street near Madison Avenue.

Legislation was introduced in Pittsburgh a few months ago regulating short-term rentals.

A woman who was shot in the incident recently filed a lawsuit against the company and the owners of the property where the shooting occurred.

Councilman Tom Rostek said he supports the tenancy ordinance.

“The (proposed) order we have is a registration mechanism,” Rostek said. “It will allow the city to understand where we have short-term rentals and who is responsible for them if something goes wrong. This also involved an inspection so that we could verify that the property is suitable for use.

“My position is, in general, that short-term rentals are not for residential use. They are more in the lines of a hotel.

“When someone moves into a residential area in Sewickley they should have the assurance that the properties around the walls will be residential. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. This is where we receive complaints.

Rostek said the planning commission is also reviewing zoning ordinances to see where short-term rentals should be allowed. There are currently no zoning restrictions on Airbnbs.

“They spawn in all areas,” Rostek said.

The ordinance should be published by August 18 and available for inspection at the borough office thereafter.

It could be officially adopted at the September 13 council meeting.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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