Short-Term Rentals May Become Regulated in Augusta
(AUGUSTA, GA) - There aren’t enough hotel rooms in Augusta to host all of the patrons who come to the area during Masters Week, but Augusta’s commission is now looking to take long-term action on short-term rentals.
The years-long standard of Augusta homeowners’ renting out their homes for short-term guests is nothing new, but the advent of companies such as Air BNB and VRBO has brought this practice to other cities, many of which now levy taxes and fees on homeowners. Hosting short-term rentals started as a source of side income for some homeowners before 2020, but saw exponential growth during the pandemic, as people working from home looked for a change of scenery and hotels were closed or offering fewer amenities to travelers.
“People are using them as revenue generators, and they’re kind of overtaking the neighborhood, especially when you have one property owner in my district who has 16 properties,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom. As interest rates on mortgages plummeted following the pandemic, many investors purchased homes with plans to earn a full-time income using them as short-term rentals. In this transition from families renting their homes for a week or two each year, to full-scale businesses operating out of residential neighborhoods, other trends started to emerge as well.
“The parties, the loud noise, commissioner Frantom has one example of someone who had died in the home,” said Commissioner Stacy Pulliam.
“It creates a lot of discord because they see all these cars, different cars, on and off the street, and the parties, and they want the integrity of the neighborhood to stay the same,” said Frantom, bringing into question what regulations the city may need to impose on this type of operation.
“You are supposed to have a business license for any business you are running out of your home,” said Pulliam.
Still, as several commissioners express their desire not to create a new means of collecting taxes from Augustans.
“For certain, a fee for violators would be helpful. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to regulate this. That’s the only way to be sure what we’re trying to accomplish gets done,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson. There is money to be made by the city for doing so.
“In 2022, we collected $930,000,” said Interim City Administrator Takiya Douse.
Because there isn’t an ordinance governing the operation, those funds last year went to the city’s hotel and motel revenue line, not the general fund.
There is more work to be done before an ordinance can be drafted. The city attorney told members of the commission in Wednesday’s meeting that they will need to meet with several other city departments before this plan can make its way through the channels of the commission.
The next meeting on this topic could happen in 30 to 45 days.
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