New Vacation Rental Restrictions
The Washington County Commission recently made a controversial decision regarding vacation rentals for unincorporated properties in the county. They voted to ban vacation rentals where the owner doesn’t live at the property. Here are some important points when considering this decision.
Who isn’t Affected?
This decision doesn’t affect:
- Owner-occupied vacation rentals. This includes individual rooms rented in a home, casitas, and detached buildings on the property. Owners can’t live there for a few months and rent the property out for the rest of the time. They have to be physically present while the property is being rented.
- Properties that are incorporated into a city. This ban only applies to properties governed exclusively by the county. If a property is part of a municipality, it must abide by the vacation rental rules of that municipality.
- Properties that already have permission to participate in vacation rentals. The county will allow properties that already have vacation rental permits to be grandfathered in and continue in that capacity. New permits will not be issued for at least 6 months.
How was this Decision Reached?
Residents came to the county complaining about the effect of unauthorized vacation rentals in their neighborhoods. They insisted that vacation rentals with many guests were becoming a nuisance. They demanded that the county do something to address the problem. This decision came as a response to those requests.
Is it a Permanent Decision?
The county decided to institute a ban while they hire an independent outside company to come in and do a study on the county. They want to determine the effects of vacation rentals in the county. Once the report is received the commissionaires will determine how best to govern the practice. There is a chance that the ban will be lifted or become more lenient once the study is complete. There is not a firm date yet on when the study will start or how long the study will take but it is assumed that it will take several months for the study to come back and a new decision reached.
The county was presented with several options on how to deal with this problem and they had a difficult time deciding which would be best. As it is whenever individual property rights bump into government regulation, it is a very controversial issue and nothing they could have done would have satisfied everyone. That being said, it will be interesting to watch the effects of this decision, the study, and what will happen in the future. There is a chance that this will set a precedent for the cities in our county that are also wrestling with how best to manage the vacation rental situation. Hopefully, city and county officials will be able to find a solution that both protects the local way of life as well as the free use of private property.