My husband, Jay, and I have lived in Midtown Atlanta since 1996. We are also Airbnb hosts who rent out a duplex near our home. These rentals will supplement our income when we retire in the next year or two.
The majority of our guests are families with children visiting their relatives and local residents whose homes are being remodeled. Our guests choose to stay in the privacy, comfort and safety of a home near their families or because they want amenities more suitable to longer-term stays, like a fully stocked kitchen, washer/dryer and a private outdoor patio.
Since we began hosting, we have made it clear to both our neighbors and our guests that we do not tolerate parties or disruptive behavior of any kind. We established clear house rules forbidding unneighborly conduct, including no visitors, parties, gatherings or loud music. Then, we work with our guests to ensure their compliance with our rules. We are proud to say we have not had a single incident or complaint from our neighbors since we opened the rental home four years ago.
Across the city, responsible short-term rental owners like us are welcoming guests and earning income to save for retirement, pay the bills and stave off eviction. But now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to host short-term rentals is in jeopardy.
District 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook is proposing an ordinance that would ban all short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. Shook has acknowledged publicly that his goal is to put an end to the use of mansions by a small number of bad actors as event spaces for large, uncontrolled parties. While we share Shook’s concerns about party houses, we fervently disagree with his approach.
A ban on all short-term rentals is unnecessary overkill that will do great harm to the majority of the Atlanta short-term rental community, who work to ensure that guests respect their neighbors and who depend upon their hosting income to make ends meet. The ban will also deprive the city and the state of tax revenues and local businesses of an infusion of spending from guests staying nearby. Visitors would also be denied the opportunity to experience our city from the safety and comfort of a home in one of Atlanta’s loveliest neighborhoods.
Rather than an overzealous ban, Atlanta needs common-sense, short-term rental rules that would:
♦ prohibit the use of residential properties for unruly parties
♦ include effective penalties for bad actors who violate the rules
♦ protect the rights of Atlanta residents to share their properties.
Rules like these will allow the city to take meaningful action against bad actors and end the regulatory uncertainty that leaves hosts like my husband and me vulnerable to overly restrictive policy proposals. We urge council members and Mayor (Keisha Lance) Bottoms to reject this ban, and instead work with local short-term rental hosts, platforms and community members to find a reasonable solution.