Marietta, Cobb and Smyrna move closer to regulating short-term rentals

January 25 – After months of discussions, local governments in Cobb move closer to regulating short-term rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Officials say the largely unregulated properties operate unattended. In some cases, residents have complained about litter, noise, illegal parking, and other quality of life issues generated by short-term rentals.

Marietta City Council will discuss a draft new ordinance Tuesday night regarding short-term rentals. At the same time, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing into its 2022 code amendments, which include, among other things, restrictions on short-term rentals. The city of Smyrna, meanwhile, has a committee working on the legislation and is expected to pass an ordinance in the coming months.

In Georgia, the regulation of short-term rental applications rests almost entirely with municipal governments. The only state law on the matter, which went into effect last year, requires platforms to pay local hotel and motel taxes and state fees.

Marietta

Following talks last fall, City of Marietta staff created a draft ordinance that a committee of council will discuss on Tuesday.

Staff researched 15 other Georgia cities and counties, identifying nine common regulations used to manage short-term rentals.

Under the proposed Marietta Order, owners of short-term rentals would:

— Obtain a business license;

— Obtain a newly created short-term rental permit;

— Comply with building codes;

— Comply with fire safety codes;

— Comply with certain parking standards;

— Limit stays to less than 30 days;

— Have a designated local contact agent to resolve issues;

— Respect occupancy limits.

Overnight occupancy would be limited to two people per room plus two additional people per residence. Daytime occupancy would be limited to overnight restrictions, plus six people.

The city would also impose penalties on property owners who violate the ordinance.

City Manager Bill Bruton said at a meeting last fall that the city had no way of knowing how many short-term rentals were in the city, or where they were. Council members then expressed their support for keeping rentals to the same standards as other small businesses.

The occupancy restrictions would also help prevent future issues with so-called “party houses,” when houses are rented out by guests to host parties, city economic development officer Daniel Cummings told MDJ. .

If passed, the city will have to contract with a private company that can identify short-term rentals in the city, to bring them into compliance. Cummings said violators could be subject to fines or having their license revoked.

“It’s a challenge to do this because there was no reason to report until now,” Cummings said.

Marietta City Council will discuss the issue at its Judiciary Legislative Committee meeting on Tuesday evening. Committee meetings begin at 5:15 p.m. and are held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 205 Lawrence Street.

Cobb County

The county is in the middle of its annual code change process, and short-term rentals are in the sights of commissioners.

If a new ordinance is approved, the county will enact restrictions similar to what Marietta is proposing — landowners would have to obtain business licenses, designate a local agent for contact, adhere to occupancy and vehicle limits.

Cobb also offers a three strike system for offenders. The first violation would be punishable by a fine of $500, the second by a fine of $750 and the third by the revocation of the licence. Operating without a business license would result in a fine of $500 per day.

Cobb officials share the same concerns as Marietta officials. The county’s director of community development, Jessica Guinn, said at a meeting last year that Cobb didn’t know much about the number of short-term rentals in effect in the county. But problems have arisen from running party houses in residential neighborhoods, with trash piling up and parked cars blocking traffic.

Commissioners will discuss rentals, along with other code amendments, in a public hearing Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., and again Feb. 8, in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee Street.

Smyrna

Smyrna City Council set up a committee last year to draft a short-term rental ordinance. Councilman Glenn Pickens, who chairs the committee, said the committee has met several times and hopes to present a proposal to the full council in the coming months.

A city-funded analysis last year found Smyrna had 253 properties available for short-term rental. Of the properties listed, 60% were single family homes and 80% offered the full unit to tenants. The remaining 20% ​​only offered a room or part of a given property.

Smyrna Council has proposed an ordinance that would require landlords to obtain a license and notify neighboring properties of their plans. The ordinance may also include a three-strike layout, similar to the Cobb proposal.

A provision considered by Smyrna proved particularly controversial – properties would only be allowed to be let 180 days a year.

“It’s their (Airbnb hosts) the biggest thing they don’t like…but on the other hand, landlords like that part because it then limits the amount of transition they have in their neighborhood,” said said Pickens.

The committee will likely meet once or twice more before submitting an order to the full board for consideration, Pickens said.

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