Georgia bill aims to limit local government power on short-term property rentals

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV)- A Georgia lawmaker is pushing a bill that would give local governments less control over short-term rentals like Air BNB.

House Bill 523 is on the move in the Georgia legislature and Representative Kasey Carpenter wants to see it pass. Under the bill local governments would not be able to oversee licensing, occupancy limits, or any permitting at short-term rental properties.

“The problem here is one size does not fit all,” said Keith Gay, a managing partner at Tybee Beach Vacation rentals.

Gay finds himself understanding both sides of the short term rental issue. He thinks regulations serve a purpose but, “I also understand that it has some impact on property rights so you know its kind of a mixed bag.”

Current Georgia law states, “no county or municipal corporation may require registration of vacant or foreclosed rental property,” still Tybee Island and the City of Savannah both require homeowners to register.

“The intention behind it is to provide information to law enforcement and to municipality governing bodies to be able to act when it’s appropriate,” said Gay.

Tybee Mayor Shirley Session doesn’t support the bill she thinks consistent and fair regulation of short term rentals protects the community as a whole.

“Sometimes not everybody sees their responsibilities in the same way that’s why we have ordinances,” said Sessions. “That’s why we have laws on the books to regulate noise, to regulate derelict properties.”

Under the bill, local governments would not be able to oversee licensing, inspections or how many people can stay in those vacation rentals.

“Now, I think what could happen is the state could pass a regulation that gives some protection but then allows local communities to expand on that,” said Gay. “That’s historically the way things have been done.”

Gay stresses that companies like Air BNB started in bigger cities and now have expanded to communities like Tybee with very different residential landscapes.

“I think every community has the right to regulate in accordance with the use of their community,” said Gay.

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