(The Center Square) — Short-term rentals are a hot-button topic nationally, particularly around high-profile events like the Super Bowl.
How states and local jurisdictions handle regulations around rentals varies widely, and Georgia is no exception.
“What we’re seeing in Georgia is similar to the kind of things we’re seeing across the entire country, where various [governments], whether it’s local municipalities or on the state level, are looking at rules and regulations and pieces to put in place to address some of the issues,” Pam Knudsen, an executive at Avalara, a tax collection and remittance software company, told The Center Square.
“It could be everything from caps on the number of short-term rental permits that they issue to regulations regarding noise and trash and parking,” Knudsen added. “It’s really a matter of what the jurisdiction is trying to solve for and determining how they think that they can best solve for those things.”
According to Awning.com, Georgia has no state-wide regulations for short-term rentals. However, in 2021, Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 317 to classify licensed short-term rentals as similar to hotels, and licensed rental owners must pay hotel taxes — a $5 per night lodging tax and any local government excise tax.
Nationally, the types of regulations community leaders will consider varies widely. The same holds true for jurisdictions in Georgia, and it could vary within a county.
In September, for example, Cobb County commissioners passed a short-term rental ordinance that took effect on Jan. 1. But officials in Smyrna, which is in Cobb County, previously passed their own version of an ordinance that includes parking regulations and occupancy limits.
“Other jurisdictions have put some pretty interesting requirements on, saying you have to have your home inspected, and it has to be up to code before you can get a short-term rental permit,” Knudsen added. “…Some places have put in that it can’t be an unattended house, you can rent out a room in your house, but you can’t necessarily not be present.”
Knudsen notes that communities nationwide saw an increase in the short-term rental market amid the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing people to work remotely and maintain their livelihoods while maintaining their distance from others.
While some communities have started to address concerns about party houses and even put in place regulations against single-night rentals, events like Augusta’s Masters Tournament pose an entirely different conundrum, Knudsen said.
“You get things like the Masters where [renters are] going to come in for a week,” Knudsen added. “Well, those people aren’t necessarily going to party every night in that week; that’s just not what they’re there for. … One of the interesting things is the fact that there were a lot of short-term rentals that occurred in Augusta that were not regulated, and they knew that, and that’s one of the things that they’re looking at.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor