Greenwich limits days for short-term accommodation rentals like Airbnb while passing new regulations

GREENWICH – New regulations on short-term rentals and the use of short stays in a residence facilitated by online marketplaces such as Airbnb have been adopted in the city.

The city’s zoning enforcement office regularly receives complaints from local residents, about one every two months, about Airbnb or other short-term tenants in residential areas, so the Planning and Zoning Commission of the city decided it was time to pass a set of bylaws. Previously, there was no provision on the books for short-term rentals of houses or apartments.

New regulations approved last week limit the number of days a tenant can occupy a residence to 30 consecutive days at a time, and any room involved in a rental must have a clear “emergency evacuation”. Receptions, weddings, film shoots, photo shoots, corporate retreats and fundraisers are prohibited.

A landlord who already has a “boarder” or “roomer” in residence, which is permitted by city code, also cannot arrange a short-term rental. Accessory units such as garages or pool houses are prohibited from rental use. Any rental residence must have sufficient parking space for visitors.

President Margarita Alba said she was pleased that the new regulations had struck the right balance. “Some flexibility, but it’s not unlimited,” she said at Thursday’s meeting. “We don’t want to open the barn door to increasing density. … We pay attention to that.

Wynn McDaniel, chairman of District 7 of the city’s representative meeting in the north-central part of Greenwich, who has studied the matter, said: “Let’s put something in place, see how it works and take it from there.

Alban agreed and said zoning regulations could be changed if necessary. “We can modify it,” she said.

Airbnb offers rentals in Greenwich ranging from a two-bedroom apartment for $105 a night to more luxurious seaside homes that have been listed for $1,000 a day during the summer months.

Planning staff, researching the issue, found that complaints about short-term rentals were about parking issues, use of inappropriate structures, and noise.

The planning department looked at regulations in other Connecticut communities — some lenient, some strict — when developing the new guidelines for Greenwich.

The Planning and Zoning Commission said the Greenwich Association of Realtors would be contacted to publicize the new regulations. The RTM and the office of first coach Fred Camillo will also be contacted to spread the word.

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the new bylaw in a vote.

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