The Raleigh City Council sent mixed messages Tuesday night about the future of short-term rentals like Airbnb.
The council voted 5-2 to allow the rental of up to two rooms in private homes in residential areas, if homeowners get a permit, inform their neighbors, and live on-site while guests are present. The regulations prohibit renting to more than two adults at a time.
Council Member Dickie Thompson said the new rules represent a significant shift in the council's approach to short-term rentals.
“The needle here has really moved,” said Thompson. “This proposed ordinance is a very big compromise compared to where we were three years ago. It's time we get this passed and go about making this a legal operation now.”
There are thousands of Raleigh listings on Airbnb and other online short-term rental platforms, but up until now, the city has chosen not to pursue punishment of those local Airbnb hosts. With rules in place governing room rentals, Council Member Stef Mendell said it's time to start enforcing the city's regulations prohibiting short-term whole house rentals.
“Now that the decision has been made to regulate short-term rentals in residential districts by the homestay ordinance, we need to address the enforcement of illegal rentals in the city,” she said.
The council voted 5-2 to start enforcing the ban on short-term rentals of entire houses at the start of next year, though a council committee could propose modifying those rules before enforcement begins.
Those who violate the city’s new regulations could face fines of up to $500 per day.