AirBnb

Raleigh City Council Fails To Approve Airbnb Regulations

The proposal would have blocked residents from renting out their entire home.

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James Willamor / Flickr

For almost two years, Raleigh city leaders have debated the best approach towards short-term renting services like Airbnb and VRBO.

Currently, the city lacks laws regulating short-term living services, which technically makes them illegal. However, council members in late 2014 opted to not enforce this standing.

On Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council failed to pass a proposal which would have legally allowed owners to rent part of their property for a short time, but this actually looks like a good thing for renters.

In a 4-4 vote, council members failed to approve of a proposal that would have allowed residents to put up two rooms for rent, but not their entire house.

Technology journalist and Raleigh resident Gregg Stebben has rented a section of his Raleigh home with his wife Jo Ann since 2014. He says he was thrilled about the decision, adding the new rules would not have been family-friendly.

"It was the wisest thing to do," said Stebben in an interview with Reason.

According to Forbes, Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. As economic opportunities have grown, so has the desire to move to Raleigh and the surrounding Research Triangle area. Yet, as Stebben says, the shortage of hotels in certain parts of Raleigh has made the city inconvenient for families looking to relocate or just visit North Carolina's capital city.

"So many people want to move here," Stebben said. "If we do not make the area more family-friendly, they go to different communities and spend their time and money there."

When the Stebbens first considered opening his Raleigh home for short-term renting, they asked city zoning officials whether or not these services were legal. According to Stebben, the officials did not know the legality, yet allowed the Stebbens to go forward with renting as long as complaints were not made.

A complaint was filed, but not because his residents did anything wrong; it was over a concern regarding the legality of the provided service.

City council member-at large Mary-Ann Baldwin said in an interview with Reason only seven complaints—including the one made against Stebben—have been in the past seventeen months. This is considering 500 homes are listed as short-term rental properties, with a speculation of around 13,000 visitors staying at these locations during this time.

"Some council members are more prone to regulation," Baldwin says. "But some regulation can be put into place without overly burdening hosts."

Stebben says these numbers show just how successful short-term listings can be in Raleigh, adding it allows renters and rentees to benefit through a sharing economy.

"When you look at the numbers, those are 500 people who have started their own business," Stebben said. "It's a beautiful program to learn about capitalism and the economy right at home. This is the first step in understanding economics, and you can learn things that allow you to understand how to treat and serve people better."

Council member Russ Stephenson told The News & Observer these practices do not benefit everyone.

"This is something better described as internet-enabled, crowd-sourced capitalism because that's really what it's about," Stephenson said. "It's creating an opportunity by using the internet to monetize some assets that would be difficult for us as individuals to monetize."

Yet Baldwin said there has been a fear from some to change, and the city council must pass a law that keeps up with the times.

"We must look to the future," Baldwin said. "We have to keep an open mind and adapt to change, which is something Raleigh has done in regards to innovation in the past."

A new set of rules will be drafted by the council's Economic Development and Innovation Committee. Stebben said this will hopefully allow all parties to voice their concerns over issues such as traffic and noise pollution, giving the council the chance to understand how to create rules that please all sides.

"All stakeholders must come together in the conversation," Stebben said. "There should be rules that make neighbors, the business community and other stakeholders happy."

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  1. For almost two years, Raleigh city leaders have debated the best approach towards short-term renting services like Airbnb and VRBO.

    Get the fuck out of the way and let them happen?

    *cue Samantha Bee grimace*

    I know… crazy talk.

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      1. Ok, so I reported as SPAM (like I do with 100% of Playa Manhattan posts) but nothing happened.

        1. But it felt good, right?

        2. You’re heartless, Paul! HEARTLESS! What if this is the only way poor Mollie can feed her spamlings?

        3. So did I. It disappeared, but then came back as soon as I refreshed the page (wanted to see if it got rid of it permanently – it obviously didn’t).

    2. You’ve just outed yourself as someone who watches Samantha Bee.

      *hovers over spam button*

  2. “Currently, the city lacks laws regulating short-term living services, which technically makes them illegal.”

    huh?

    1. EVERYTHING NOT MANDATORY IS FORBIDDEN.

    2. You noticed that too. I have to admit I’m impressed that Raleigh has chosen the noble path to “ignore enforcement”. It’s unfortunate that everyone seems to be on tenterhooks, worrying that the could suddenly get worse, but I suppose we take freedom where we can get it.

      1. Failure to enforce is better than nothing, but it’s still the illusion of freedom. As long as those laws (or lack thereof) remain you’re only one busybody complaint, one overzealous bureacrat away from the whole thing being shut down.

        1. Failure to enforce is better than nothing, but it’s still the illusion of freedom

          So much this. I’ve been criticized on these very boards for complaining about poorly enforced laws representing the libertarian moment. that shit can turn on a dime and has.

          1. the city believes the lounges are also magnets for violent crime

            WTF? There must be a dozen within a block of my house and nothing could be further from the truth. Of course I live in a relatively safe neighborhood – maybe they should be looking into other excuses?

            1. Now Rhywun, they believe that. They haz a feelz.

            2. Isn’t it fun? City bans outdoor smoking. City gets whinging from prog groups about how “hookah lounges” should be exempt from smoking ban because Kultur! City backs off. After a year when everyone forgets, city claims Hookah lounges are crime magnets, curb stomps them by re-invoking the indoor smoking ban.

              Ain’t having lots of regulatory tools grand?

              1. Yeah & the hookah loophole occasionally gets the attention of our nannies here in NYC too – when their attention wanders from taxing plastic bags and signalling their opposition to yokels in the south.

              2. They haven’t banned outdoor smoking yet? I wouldn’t have believed the Twin Cities could get ahead of Seattle on anything progressive, but I do know a ban on smoking in city parks is being debated here.

                1. Sorry, that was a reply to Paul above.

    3. When the Stebbens first considered opening his Raleigh home for short-term renting, they asked city zoning officials whether or not these services were legal. According to Stebben, the officials did not know the legality, yet allowed the Stebbens to go forward with renting as long as complaints were not made.

      Yeah, we’re boned when you look at the law to see if it says what you’re proposing is explicitly permitted rather than to look to see if it’s explicitly prohibited to decide if it’s legal or not. How the hell did we get to this place where people accept that you have to ask permission for every damn thing so much so that a writer can just throw this into an article without comment?

    4. I logged in to ask this very thing.

  3. Currently, the city lacks laws regulating short-term living services, which technically makes them illegal.

    Dafuq?

    1. EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS MANDATORY.

      1. ATTEMPT NO RENTALS HERE

  4. Wah wah wah

    (that’s the sound of a sad trumpet)

    1. FUCK THEM!! That’s the sound of a defiant free man. If I have to ask the government’s permission to use my own property, it will be a long wait for that bureaucrat.

  5. Today’s big scandal in Minnesoda is people are trying to rent their condos out and the HOA’s aren’t having none of it.

    So of course lawsuits

    The woman suing her HOA has been renting for a long time and there have been no complaints. The HOA only started hassling her when they saw an ad on AirBnB.

    1. My HOA allows all of that. If the tenants are a problem, they fine the everloving fuck out of the owners.

    2. That’s her problem for having bought a property subject to the petty tyrants of an HOA.

      1. I did some work for a company that helped HOA manage their paperwork and such. It was really amazing at the range of HOA’s out there. Some were absolutely hands off. Others were all about climbing up everyone’s ass to make sure that they didn’t do anything fun.

    3. First time I used Airbnb was in a condo in Minneapolis and while I was as quiet and discreet as a dormouse apparently someone found the listing and complained so he got fined. Some people really have nothing better to do.

      Place had a great view of the new stadium being constructed, and had a lovely soundtrack of sirens half the night from County Hospital.

  6. Currently, the city lacks laws regulating short-term living services, which technically makes them illegal.

    Huh? That which isn’t explicitly permitted (and regulated) is forbidden? WTF?

  7. A complaint was filed, but not because his residents did anything wrong; it was over a concern regarding the legality of the provided service.

    Fucking busybodies. If they’re not bothering or harming you, who the fuck cares if what they’re doing is legal or not? The stoners I lived next door to my senior year of college were a hell of a lot better neighbors than the booze hounds who lived one floor down and liked to routinely throw parties with loud obnoxious “music” until 4:00 am (and not just on weekends either).

  8. Currently, the city lacks laws regulating short-term living services, which technically makes them illegal.

    Uhm, maybe I’m missing something – the US follows Common Law tradition, not Napoleanic Code. So a lack of regulation should, by default, make it *legal*, not illegal. You can do anything that you’re not forbidden from doing, in contrast with NC where you can only do that which you’ve been given permission to do.

    1. Your attitude, so quaint.

      Remember, Ag, this is the country in which people said, “Sure, we’d like to legalize marijuana, so first we have to create a market and tax system for it”

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