Georgia cities and counties would be prohibited from regulating short-term rental properties under legislation that cleared a state House committee Tuesday.
With the advent of Airbnb and other vacation rental companies in recent years, short-term rentals have become a fast-growing industry. But with that growth has come a rise in complaints from neighbors about rowdy parties and absentee property owners running what essentially are small hotels in residential areas.
Some local governments have responded with tight restrictions banning short-term rentals from their communities.
Cities and counties can address such issues through nuisance ordinances and occupancy limits without banning short-term rentals altogether, Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor, told members of the House Regulated Industries Committee.
“These bans and overregulation are an attack on private property rights,” he said.
Advocates for local governments oppose the bill as usurping their zoning powers under the Georgia Constitution.
Clint Mueller, legislative director for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, said the state’s one-size-fits-all approach toward short-term rentals won’t work in a state as diverse as Georgia.
“What St. Simons does may be different than what they do in North Fulton or in the mountains,” he said.
Mueller said counties currently don’t even have a way to determine which properties are being used as short-term rentals.
“If there’s a violation, we don’t know who’s renting short term,” he said. “We can’t even set up a notification process under this bill.”
House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, one of three committee members who voted against the bill, said it offers no protection for homeowners who might move into a neighborhood expecting the quality of life that comes with living in a residential area only to find short-term rentals plopped into their midst.
“Are you concerned you’re changing the rules for millions of Georgians?” Jones asked Carpenter.
But Carpenter said his bill treats short-term rental properties the same as long-term rentals that already are permitted in many residential neighborhoods. The only exception is a carve-out provision for homeowners’ associations that ban short-term rentals in their covenants.
“To me, there’s not a lot of difference between a short-term rental and a long-term rental,” he said. “You have bad apples in both cases.”
The bill now heads to the House Rules Committee, which will decide whether to send it to the full House for a vote.
Dave Williams writes for the Capitol Beat News Service