City of Folly Beach working on new short-term rental rules

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - The City of Folly Beach is in the process of finalizing new short term rental rules.

City Council held a work session on the proposed changes Tuesday night.

City officials say there have been more than 100 additional short-term rental units in the city just this year and that number continues to grow.

A new ordinance is an effort to make sure visitors are respecting their neighbors and homeowners are held accountable.

Folly Beach is popular short term rental destination.

"Folly Beach is a jewel and we need to protect it," said Greg Hart, the property manager and president of Folly's Best Rentals.

His company assists homeowners in renting properties for mostly short-term, but also long-term.

There have been resident complaints on Folly Beach, according to city's Planning Commission Vice Chair Lajuan Kennedy.

"Not trying to do away with anything, but some of the houses do need to quiet down just a little," Kennedy said.

Hart says Folly's Best Rentals already follows some of the proposed changes to the short-term rental ordinance.

"I think it's smart of the city to try and regulate to protect the asset that they have," Hart said.

Here are a few proposals for the short-term rental ordinance:

  • Overnight stays are limited to two people per bedroom
  • Plus two people per floor of the house
  • A 49-person event limit
  • No amplified music allowed
  • The city will look to enforce rental registration after four warnings or citations a short-term
  • Rental business license could be revoked

"I think they need to have a tiered system instead of just having four violations and then chopping the hammer on someone," said Julian Hill who has been renting out his home for about a year.

During the work session it was proposed that there should be an adaption to the ordinance and a system put in place where there will be fines or penalties before a license is revoked.

Hill says renting out his house on Folly Beach is the only way he can afford to keep two houses. He also has a home on James Island.

He says he hasn't had any tenant issues and hopes there will be a balance in the city's regulations.

"I'm just concerned about unfair changes for a lot of the homeowners who have been following the rules," Hill said.

Hart believes the city has done a great job working with people who manage properties and home owners on the beach.

"They're asking the people who come here to visit to be responsible and good neighbors. I think that's what we all want," Hart said.

As it stands, the ordinance would also require each homeowner who is renting out their property to have a contact that could arrive within 30 minutes in the case of an emergency.

A lot rentals are owned by people who live out of town.

"The things we're trying to do is make it so that the community itself can all come together, the vacation rental, the homeowner, everybody," Kennedy said "We can live in peace and enjoy paradise."

The planning commission has already recommended changes as a result of community feedback since the initial draft ordinance came forward.

The next work session on short-term rentals will take place Nov.  29 at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The council could decide to vote on the first reading next month.

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