The local community will have a chance in coming weeks to discuss potential new rules for short-term rentals in Forsyth County.
Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday at a work session to go to a public hearing for the new rental rules, aimed at regulating rentals through sites such as Airbnb and VRBO and made changes including cleaning up language and considering a maximum of 20-25 weeks per year for each property to be rented.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said one of the major changes is capping short-term rentals at a week. Those renting for only a weekend or other short stays have been repeatedly brought up as an issue by neighbors living near the properties.
“You must commit to us that you are going to rent or lease your space, your residential structure, for at least six nights and seven days up to 30 days,” Jarrard said. “If you lease it or rent it or lease it for less than that, then we will, as a government, construe that as you have converted your structure away from a residential use to more of a boarding house, commercial character use, and that is illegal, and we would, therefore, shut that down.”
Other changes would require there be a local contact for all rentals, no parking in yards, a required permit for the owner of the property and limits on the number of people who can stay overnight in the houses.
For houses on sewer, the number of visitors is capped at 15 individuals who can stay overnight or two per each bedroom in the house plus two more guests. Houses on septic tanks will have different standards depending on the system. Children under 2 are not included in the count.
“I think the point is if a complaint comes in, it at least gives our code enforcement personnel tools they certainly don’t have right now,” Jarrard said.
It was not yet clear when the public hearing will be held.
In recent years, services like Airbnb have become a popular way for people to find residents who want to rent out a room or their house for short-term stays as an alternative choice to hotels.
While the rentals might save money for consumers, the county does not get the same taxes that the visitors staying at a hotel would generate.
There have also been past concerns about noise complaints involving these renters.
Neighbors said previously they had encountered issues with excessive noise, trash being left behind and renters who host parties that go late into the night.
Since 2016, commissioners have discussed how to deal with the rentals, which are particularly popular in the summer and on Lake Lanier.