Kure Beach To Hold Meeting On Proposed Vacation Rental Rules

Kure Beach To Hold Meeting On Proposed Vacation Rental Rules Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 18 February 2015 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a Special Meeting at Town Hall on Wednesday, March 4th, at 6:30 pm to receive input from the public regarding a proposed "Vacation Rentals" ordinance.
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.
The Commission will hold a special meeting on March 4th to consider a proposed ordinance. A portion of the ordinance states, "Any person intending to engage in a vacation rental shall, prior to engaging in any such rentals, file an application and obtain a permit from the Town Clerk"
The section concerning "Permit Conditions" states:
All permits issued under this chapter are expressly subject to the following conditions:
(a) Vacation home owners and their agents shall expressly provide in their rental agreements that the maximum number of overnight occupants in a vacation home shall be limited to the maximum number of overnight occupants set forth in the permit, said number not to exceed two (2) adult persons per bedroom plus four (4) additional adult persons per residence; provided that, however, a studio rental shall be limited to a maximum of four (4) adults. For purposes of this section, minors under eighteen (18) years of age shall not be counted as adults.
(b) Vacation home owners and their agents shall expressly provide in their rental agreements that a vacation home shall not be used by tenants to engage in commercial activities including, without limitation, weddings, receptions, and large parties.
(c) Vacation home owners and their agents shall expressly provide in their rental agreements that tenants shall not violate federal, state, or local laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations; engage in disorderly or illegal conduct; engage in activities or conduct creating or resulting in unreasonable noise, disturbances, and public nuisances; allow an unreasonable amount of garbage, refuse, and rubbish to accumulate on the property; illegally park vehicles in conjunction with their use of the vacation home; and overcrowd the vacation home premises.
(d) Vacation home owners and their agents shall expressly provide in the rental agreements that a material breach of the express provisions required under sub-sections (a)-(c) above shall result in a termination of the rental agreement.
(e) Vacation homeowners and their agents shall take reasonable steps to ensure the tenants’ compliance with the express provisions required under subsections (a)-(c) above. As used herein, the term “reasonable steps” shall be construed to include, without limitation, the following: 1) posting a copy of the vacation home rental permit and these permit conditions in a conspicuous place within the vacation home; 2) promptly contacting tenants when notified of violations of the permit conditions and requesting the tenants to cease and desist from such violations; 3) contacting law enforcement when a reasonable person would deem the assistance of law enforcement to be necessary under conditions then prevailing on the premises; and 4) when applicable and reasonable, commencing expedited eviction procedures against the tenants as provided for in Article 4 of Chapter 42A, Vacation Rental Act, of the North Carolina General Statutes.
Penalties for violation of the ordinance include fines for multiple violations up to $1,000 for the 4th violation and revocation of a permit for 12 months on the 5th violation.
Failure to pay fines would lead to collections and legal proceedings. The ordinance also provides an option to request an administrative hearing to appeal citations for violations. Visit www.townofkurebeach.org  to view a copy of the proposed ordinance.

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