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Short Term Rentals in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (April 4, 2016) Short term rentals such as Airbnbs and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) are growing in our area and our city officials and residents met to discuss how to address this trend. 

“Residential districts should be occupied by residents,” said Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady at yesterday’s agenda review. He was commenting on the issue of short term rentals (“STR”). In recent years, Airbnb’s have sprung up and Wilmington staff estimates over 200 operate within the city’s boundaries. “In the past, attorneys and hair salons have tried to operate in residentially zoned areas and we’ve said no, we need to maintain the integrity of our neighborhoods.” Councilman O’Grady speaks for the voice of citizens who oppose allowing STR’s from operating from residential districts in the city.
 
On the other hand, recent surveys by the city show that a large number of people support this new change in lodging dynamics and the growing number of Airbnbs and VRBOs and that turning away business would be like not allowing Uber to operate services in the city, setting us back while other cities are embracing change. The surveys discussed in Tuesday's meeting were completed by Wilmington residents and visitors alike.
 
“Either way, there appears to be no pattern to how other cities have handled the issue,” said Shane Johnson, WRAR COO. “It is difficult to compare other situations as most state statutes constrain what municipalities can do.” In North Carolina, state statute will not allow the city to ban STR’s but they can limit them to specific zoned areas. Currently the city allows STR’s with no minimum night stay in the CBD, but in residential districts homes can be rented for a minimum of seven days. B&B’s are regulated separately, allowing one B&B per city block face, and requiring a manager or owner to live on site.
 
City staff recommended (1) that the city define STR’s and (2) that a registration or licensing system be created for STR’s. At the conclusion of the meeting, city staff was tasked with pulling together a proposed ordinance for STR’s. “Generally the Association has opposed rental registration programs,” said Johnson.

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