Residents react to state bill that could prohibit bans on short-term rentals

Short-term rentals are a controversial topic in the Lowcountry, especially in beach communities.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Short-term rentals are a controversial topic in the Lowcountry, especially in beach communities.

Local governments have put ordinances and regulations into place to control vacation rentals, but a new bill up for discussion at the statehouse Wednesday could take away that power.

Adam Moore lives in the Town of James Island and says a noisy Airbnb has disrupted his quiet neighborhood.

“I mean you’re getting 14 people, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties,” Moore said. “My son, he’s 10, we go to school, we’ve got to be there 7 in the morning and there’s been multiple times we’ve been woken up 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. because of the raging parties going on.”

In the Town of James Island, property owners are not allowed to rent their home out as a short-term rental less than 30 days if the home is not occupied by the owner.

“I think towns and cities should be able to make their own ordinances and laws based on the citizens and how they feel about it,” Moore said.

But a bill coming before the South Carolina House of Representatives Municipal and Public Affairs Subcommittee Wednesday could change that.

If signed into law, South Carolina House Bill 3253 would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances, resolutions, or regulations that prohibit short-term rentals. It would also put penalties on municipalities that do. They would have to be taxed at 4% instead of 6% investment property rate and would not be able to receive any distributions from the Local Government Fund.

Folly Beach rental property owner Tom Powers is all for it.

“There’s thousands and thousands in these communities that love those communities that are heavily invested in it, they have family legacy there, and they have no say against the minority of people that quite often aren’t even from the area telling them what they can do with their property,” Powers said. “It’s just not fair.”

In Folly Beach, the number of short-term rental licenses is currently capped at 800, and the city is not accepting applications at this time because the cap has been exceeded.

“They’ve basically cut their leg off to fix a problem with their little toe,” Powers said.

State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis of Charleston County, who is on the subcommittee, says he’s been hearing from people on all sides of the issue constantly. He says he has some “serious concerns” when it comes to taking away power from local governments.

“Each of these municipalities handles these issues differently, and I just am very concerned about the precedent that we’d be setting by prohibiting these municipalities from doing that and stripping their local government funds or taxing them at a different rate if they decide that they are gonna enact these ordinances anyway, so I’ve got some serious concerns and those are some concerns I’m going to bring up at the committee tomorrow morning,” Pendarvis said.