- Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:01
- Written by Super User
Click image for larger view: The Kure Beach Town Council heard a presentation on a rental certificate program at their June 20th meeting.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
KURE BEACH - Kure Beach Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Craig Galbraith spoke to the Town Council at their June 20th, meeting regarding managing the impacts of privately owned rental properties through a certification process. The council indicated they would like the Planning Commission to continue to look into the details of having a rental home certification requirement.
Galbraith spoke to the Council about the a rental certification process at their April 15th, meeting where he explained the item was brought up in discussions regarding parking at rental homes. He explained, "We had a general discussion about what sort of things could be done to assist to try and manage the problem where you have a house that might be rented on a weekly basis. You end up with eight or ten cars parked out front. That migrated into a discussion of safety issues."
Galbraith said he owns rental properties in several cities in different states including Indiana and in Kure Beach. He explained in an area of Indiana the City has a rental home certificate. He said, "This is a certificate where the building inspector goes in, they actually inspect for rental properties. They inspect it to make sure it satisfies safety requirements. You have to pay a fee for it. It's a $500 fee actually in West Lafayette, Indiana. It's pretty stiff. I've written a few checks."
During the Council's June 20th meeting Galbraith said the Council directed him to study if there are existing ordinances in other localities and, "It turns out that this is a very common thing" and, "Probably every single beach community on the west coast has a short-term rental certificate process."
He said there are fewer in North and South Carolina, but ordinances vary in their complexity and all serve to address similar issues.
Galbraith said parking is a major concern where large groups of 20 or 30 people show up at a beach house rented for a week and there's no adequate parking which leads to negative impacts on neighboring properties as well as safety concerns.
Galbraith cited a collapse of a deck in nearby Oak Island. He said, "Obviously the inspection process where some body from the city goes in and makes sure they have everything in place. Obviously when a house is originally built there are certain requirements but these sort of certificates require a once a year inspection by the building inspector to make sure they have fire extinguishers, that type of thing."
Galbraith said many local governments have a limitation and don't try to stop people from renting properties but, "What they are concerned about is when you get 20 or 30 people in a single house."
He said it's typical for four families to rent a four or five bedroom house and that some cities have limited the number of persons per bedroom and "posting of proper behavior" covering when the trash is picked up, noise ordinances and other rules.
Galbraith said another concern is the collection of Room Occupancy Taxes. He said, "Almost every city does have some sort of room tax process. Generally if the property is under contract with a rental agency that will get paid with the process but there are a lot of properties that are not under contract that are individually rented out and they probably don't pay some sort of room tax."
In New Hanover County short term vacation accommodations must charge a Room Occupancy Tax that is used to fund beach nourishment, tourism promotion and tourism related events that help to draw more people to the area.
Galbraith provided numerous examples showing how certificate programs are operated in other areas of the country.
He asked the Council if they wanted the Planning Commission to further investigate the issue. He said inspection fees typically range from $50 to $150 to cover the cost of the inspection.
He said the number of short-term rentals is not known, but in other communities they used surveying methods to arrive at a figure.
Mayor Pro Tem Craig Bloszinsky said he sees the merit in researching the issue in more detail adding that, "I would like to keep Town staff involvement to a minimum. By that I mean, if we put the requirement out there for people to get a certificate I would almost like to see something that says to you as a homeowner getting a thousand a week on the beach front, that you provide to us a certification of occupancy. You provide to us a certification from somebody that your fire extinguishers work, and then you bring it in, you pay the $100 and you get a certificate that says great we are happy with you. As opposed to our single inspector" that already has duties having to add more to their daily workload.
Bloszinsky said he wouldn't want the inspector rushing through the inspections and generating a liability for the Town if a deck collapses or some other incident occurs.
Galbraith said enforcement would be complaint driven because no one would expect a Town official to go door to door on a regular basis.
Another issue the Planning Commission is researching is situations where people finish off a portion of their home to create a separate living area complete with a kitchen, bath and separate access. Galbraith said that came up during discussions of governing short-term rentals and currently Town code isn't clear on the topic. He said it leads to questions of controlling zoning density.
The Planning Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7PM at Town Hall.