Short Term Rental Task Force aims to create new regulation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Short Term Rental Task Force is coming up with new regulation to try and keep up with the growing number of people who are opening their doors to renters without legally being able to.

A 2012 law makes it illegal to rent your City of Charleston home short term or less than 30 days.

There's one exception, according to the ordinance: part of Cannonborough Elliotborough bordered by Meeting Street, Morris and Bee streets, President Street and Septima Clark Parkway.

According to city officials, the ordinance allows those in commercially zoned areas within the perimeter to apply for permission.

However there are many people who don't abide by that rule, and the City of Charleston acknowledges there is a problem.

"We know there are hundreds of short term rentals if not thousands in the City of Charleston and we know it's going on and we're doing our best to keep up," said City Director Jacob Lindsey of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability.

In Tuesday's task force meeting, the group looked into eligibility requirements for those who wish to open their homes to short term renters.

The task force aims to make a recommendation after a series of sessions and reviewing data on short term rentals that has so far been collected.

"Short term rental task force is making recommendations in September, and hopefully we'll have new ideas about how we regulate short term rentals in front of our city council by the end of the year," Lindsey said.

One man at Tuesday's meeting lets people rent his home in an area not allowed, but hopes that area can expand.

He said even with over head fees, one night makes a nice profit.

"Anywhere for a room $70 to $140 dollars a night before taxes and so forth they take out. Downtown is pretty expensive to live so it helps out," said the renter.

During the weekend of the solar eclipse, Aug. 20 through the 22, Charleston is selling out when it comes to popular short term renting websites such as Airbnb and Homeaway.

In a statement, Airbnb said they have over 2500 guests staying on the peninsula. A spokesperson from Homeaway said they were at 100 percent booked for the eclipse.

The City of Charleston is preparing.

"Obviously we have a lot of heads. They are going to be tons of people visiting and we're going to do our best to enforce the regulations we have and make sure we are keeping a good eye on things," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said a portion of what the task force aims to do is better enforce the rules the city currently has, to stop people from renting illegally.

"We definitely want to be able to enforce the rules we have in the books, so it's extremely important to us to know who's short term renting and whether that's legal or not so we can enforce," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said the goal of the task force is to help the quality of life for people who live in downtown permanently, and protect neighborhoods.

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