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Commissioners mull Hall County rental ordinance
Forsyth County

Forsyth County officials are looking across Lake Lanier for a way to deal with short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO.

At a work session on Tuesday, Forsyth County Commissioners heard a presentation on a draft of a proposed Hall County’s ordinance and directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to bring back a similar ordinance to Forsyth for discussion.

“The ordinance will be how we draft it. That’s really the tricky part of what we’re trying to do,” Jarrard said. “The ones we’re getting complaints about were built in residential-zoned properties.”

The Hall County ordinance prohibits such rentals on residential property, requires a local contact person and requires the homes pay business taxes.

Previously, the county discussed a permitting system for the rentals, which are not allowed by county rules.

“The problem was that if we begin asking people to come up and say, ‘Hey, I need to get a permit because I operate a short-term vacation rental in my residentially-zoned property,’ then by the very act of doing that, they would basically be telling on themselves that they are therefore in violation,” Jarrard said.

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 a more personal and appealing — and often cheaper — choice than a hotel.

Since last year, commissioners have discussed how to deal with the rentals, which are particularly popular in the summer and on Lake Lanier.

Neighbors have told commissioners of their issues with excessive noise, trash being left behind and renters who host parties that go late into the night.

“It’s happening right now, and it’s going to happen again this summer,” Jarrard said. “In fact, I think at the last stakeholder meeting, somebody played us audio from their back porch where it’s happening in February. So it’s not just in the summer months, it’s all the time.”