Charleston Planning Commission approves proposed short-term rental ordinance

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston's Planning Commission approved a new short-term rental ordinance.

A 2012 law in the City of Charleston currently makes it illegal to rent your home for less than 30 days with one exception: those in commercially zoned parts of the Canonborough Elliotborough neighborhood.

That could soon change.

If City Council approves the ordinance it would make it legal for people to have short-term rentals with some conditions.

An annual permit would be required and permit holders must follow all City of Charleston regulations.

The properties would have to be owner-occupied primary residences meaning someone can't buy a property only for the purpose of renting it.

Properties would also have to be at least five years old to become a short-term rental to prevent investors from building to rent.

The ordinance also specifies a two person limit per bedroom rented and parking restrictions. There are also other multiple other elements to the proposed ordinance.

The planning director for Charleston, Jacob Lindsey, says the short-term rental ordinance has been in the works for more than a year.

There have been changes along the way.

"A previous proposal had been that in order for a short-term rental to be legal, the owner must reside on the property during the entire time of the rental period," Lindsey said. "What our planning commission has suggested, perhaps owners could leave their property for some time maybe up to 72 days in total and rent their property while their on vacation."

The homeowner could allow a manager to operate the short-term rental without the owner's physical presence for up to 72 rental nights per year, according to the proposed ordinance.

City of Charleston officials say the city has budgeted for three new staff members to enforce short-term rental ordinances.

There will also be new enforcement software.

"Every aspect of short-term renting is really being looked at with this ordinance from parking, to the number of people who can stay there, to where the short-term rental can be located," Lindsey said. "We think the proposal is smart and is very limited in such a way that it protects the quality of life in the City of Charleston."

The meeting was standing room only and the public comments section lasted for an hour.

Charleston residents share different opinions when it comes to short-term rentals.Some approve of the ordinance recommendations.

"I do not think that allowing short-term lets will in any way impact the livability of the area. We already have college students.We already have people working around," one resident said.

While others fear it will change the character of communities.

"Please make your recommendation to keep our neighborhood a family friendly neighborhood. People moving into our neighborhood raise families," another resident said.

There are currently hundreds of illegal short-term rentals in Charleston.

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