Neighbors air complaints about weekend Lake Lanier house rentals
Board may create ordinance to address services like Airbnb

Forsyth County commissioners will take a look at Lake Lanier homes being used for short-term rentals through services like Airbnb after receiving complaints from residents claiming they bring a negative impact on the community.

Residents from a neighborhood on Lanier discussed the issue with commissioners at a work session on Tuesday and said two homes in the neighborhood are being used only for short-term rentals, with most being for weekends.

“In our neighborhood, we know that the reasons why the neighbors did what they did is because when they were given the choice of selling the property or renting it out, they move out on the weekends and make a whole lot more money than they do annually,” homeowner Randy Kauk said. “So, we’re worried this problem is going to get worse before we do what we need to confine it.”

Kauk and other neighbors said they have encountered issues with excessive noise, trash being left behind and having renters host parties that go late into the night. Neighbors said one property brought a bus full of people.

“These homes are no longer a rented home — they’re a lodging service. They’re an event venue,” Kauk said. “They are renting these things out to weddings, hip-hop parties and longer parties.”

Neighbors said they have no issue with homeowners who are doing traditional rentals of a year or longer and that the issues are being caused by the two properties.

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.

“This is not unique to Forsyth County, Georgia,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said. “Folks are struggling with the tension between private property rights and the ability of people to utilize their property for value against the rights of those who live nearby.”

Jarrard said while the rentals are a nationwide issue, he sees the local issues as much more cut-and-dry.

“This doesn’t sound like a nuanced issue to me,” he said. “If you’ve got eight boats at a dock and you’ve got folks there until 6 a.m. and you’re advertising it as an event venue and you’ve got weddings and sorority parties and things of that nature, it doesn’t sound to me like we’re on that dicey, thin area between what is truly just a party that went awry versus a dedicated commercial use.

“We may have the tools in our toolbox now to address this.”

Jarrard said the county may need to look into an ordinance for short-term rental services, which are not required to pay the same taxes as hotels and that his office working with the county’s code enforcement department may help.

Steve Zaring, code enforcement supervisor, said his department does not usually hear about violations until after the fact and that it doesn’t have the authority to remove people.

No action was taken at the meeting.