Mt. Pleasant adjusting short-term rental rules, number cap and taxes

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 1:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 8:12 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Mount Pleasant is changing its options and limits on short-term rental regulations. The town first implemented a short-term rental policy in 2020.

The planning committee decided rentals should not make up more than 1% of the town’s residential property, and owners would have to apply for a permit and pay a special tax. The 1% calculation allowed 437 rental properties in the town.

Planning Director Michele Reed says short-term property ordinances are new to a lot of cities in the past few years.

“About four years ago, they decided to have staff start kind of conducting some public meetings and start doing some research on what are other municipalities doing and we did we looked at we looked at Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island, the City of Charleston, and then we looked at municipalities and cities in other states to see how other folks did in other areas of the country,” Reed says.

Now the city is working to refine the ordinance. They will cap applications at 400 short-term rentals and offer two types of applications for owners. Owners who rent out between 24 and 72 nights a year, will pay a $250 application fee and a 4% tax on their property. Owners who rent out more than 72 nights a year will pay a $1,500 application fee and a 6% tax on their property.

“You recognize things as it’s put in place and you begin to administer it. You can’t write the perfect ordinance. So you see where there’s loopholes or you see where there’s problems or the language isn’t crystal clear. And so you see where those changes need to be made. We’ve done that a few times. And now we’re seeing, people do this for different reasons. And have different needs. So maybe we can accommodate that through changing up the program and how we operate it a little bit,” Reed says.

Reed says the application fees basically cover the cost to the planning department to operate the program. When it comes to the rental taxes, between the county and other sources, Mount Pleasant gets about 1% of the money from short-term rentals.

“I think council will recognize that if they didn’t, it could get out of control. And to kind of, not only protect those that want to operate, but also to protect the existing quality of our neighborhoods and the community so that they wouldn’t overtake neighborhoods and things like that,” Reed says.

Reed says all current short-term rental operators will have a chance to reapply before opening the applications to new properties until they hit 400 units.

Kerry Dawson, a Carolina One real estate agent, says she has long and short-term rentals and thinks the city is doing a good job so far.

“That’s how I get my income. I applied for the business license and permit from the get-go. So, I was probably one of the pioneers of that. And it’s been a really simple process,” Dawson says. “It’s been pretty good pretty easy. They’ve kept us informed of any changes. Or anything we need to do as far as taxes that kept it really simple. The little books that they send us each month, and it’s, it’s a good thing, I think.”

One owner, who preferred to remain anonymous, says his rental property is actually a future investment, that he rents to try and offset the cost of owning it.

“Our big desire to purchase this property that we have is not an income generator, but it’s to ensure that my kids are taken care of and have property to live on one day before it’s too expensive to buy,” he says.

He says his property is on the waitlist for the short-term rental, and the cap number could mean he doesn’t get a permit. That would be detrimental to him, as he tries to rent the property to cover the cost of buying and owning it.

“I should have the ability to rent long term and short term and that’s my perspective since I own it. I’m paying probably three times the property taxes on this rental property because it’s a secondary property, and I don’t have the rights to do what I want to,” he says.

The changes are currently in the beginning stages of discussions in the planning committee. The committee will hold a public hearing on the changes at its Aug. 24 meeting at 5 p.m. Reed encourages any owners to come to the meeting or to send their comments through the town website to be a part of the discussion.

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