The deadline is approaching for short-term rentals in Fayetteville; owners have one month to obtain the permit

FAYETTEVILLE — Owners of short-term rentals have one month to obtain a permit from the city to operate legally. Otherwise, they must appear before the planning commission for a hearing.

On Tuesday, the city council made a few additional short-term rentals eligible to operate under city code.

The council voted 6-0 to make some changes to the city’s ordinance regulating short-term rentals, such as those listed on Airbnb or Vacation Rentals by Owner. Council member Teresa Turk withdrew from the vote, saying she co-owns property that could be affected by the changes.

Short-term rentals are homes that owners rent by the night. Type I short-term rentals have full-time occupants living there, with a room or addition rented by the night. Type II rentals have guests staying overnight only and have no full-time occupants in the property.

One of the changes ensures that multi-family buildings that have units owned by separate owners, such as condominiums, are exempt from a cap on the number of short-term rentals allowed. Normally, a single unit or 10% of all units, whichever is greater, in a multi-family building can be a short-term rental. If the units are all owned separately, instead of all under the same ownership and rented out, as in an apartment complex, there is no cap on the number of short-term rentals.

Exempt properties must still meet a basic set of structure-specific safety standards, such as inter-unit firewalls, sprinklers, and unobstructed stair access.

Another change allows short-term rentals in zoning districts that do not list residences as a permitted use. These neighborhoods include commercial, industrial and institutional areas. Institutional zones are generally for government buildings, churches and schools.

The changes also add a definition for an apartment or multifamily complex to city code, which did not previously exist.

Additionally, short-term rentals have until February 21 to obtain a conditional use permit from city staff, rather than the Planning Commission. Normally, the commission grants such permits, requiring a public hearing at a meeting. In November, the city council extended the grace period during which owners could bypass the public hearing and obtain the permit administratively from staff instead.

clock ticking

Jonathan Curth, director of city development services, said Thursday the city received 376 short-term rental applications to get their permit. Of these, 177 had been approved.

With the changes to the order passed, Curth said about 30 more applications could be approved. City officials estimate that between 500 and 600 people actually operate in the city.

To obtain a permit, short-term rental owners must apply for a business license and obtain a building safety inspection. City accountants verify that landlords have filed their 2% sales tax documents for hotels, motels and restaurants. Planning staff review insurance requirements and verify ownership of assets. Landlords must also register with the city’s Landlord Registry.

Owners of short-term rentals must complete the entire process by Feb. 21, Curth said. Staff do not plan to ask the board for a further extension of the deadline, he said.

From then on, owners will need to get their permit from the Planning Commission or they will be operating in violation of city code, Curth said. Violators will be dealt with on the basis of complaints and staff have no intention of seeking them out, he said.

Staff may revisit the conditional use license process in the future, Curth said.

“If that turns out to be a problem and short-term rentals themselves don’t turn out to be a problem, it may be worth reassessing what kind of process standard you are imposing on them,” he said. he declares. “After we’ve seen them for a year, they may not need conditional use licenses, and they can all get commercial licenses.”

Clean process

Logan Humphrey, owner of Cohobnb, a local business that runs several short-term rentals in northwest Arkansas, said on the one hand it’s good the city is now allowing rentals in roughly n any zoning district.

On the other hand, if they are allowed everywhere but still need to obtain a permit from the city, it is very likely that applications will obstruct Planning Commission meetings after the February 21 deadline, he said. declared.

Humphrey said that while landlords must obtain conditional use permits from the planning commissioners, who will assess and vote to approve them, there is no point in limiting the density of short-term rentals. The city still limits the number of rentals allowed in a multi-family building, and only a maximum of 2% of the city’s total housing units can be a short-term rental. The 2% cap seemed fair for the city to maintain an affordable housing stock, he said.

It would make more procedural and legal sense to allow short-term rentals in the same zoning districts that allow hotels, rather than going through the conditional use permit process, Humphrey said. He wondered what the legal implications might be if the commission refused a permit for a short-term rental in an area where hotels are permitted.

“Originally, the ordinance was under an interpretation for over a year that was really moderate,” Humphrey said. “This has allowed places where hotels are allowed by law to only have short-term rentals allowed by law. Now no short-term rentals are allowed by law anywhere.”

Conversely, if planning commissioners essentially end up approving the applications, that would call into question the purpose of the ordinance, Humphrey said.

Elsewhere in northwest Arkansas, Rogers has a similar procedure in Fayetteville. Owners of short-term rentals must obtain a use permit from planning staff, undergo a building security inspection, and obtain a business license. Rentals are only permitted in zoning areas that permit residential uses. The city collects a 3% lodging tax on rentals.

Officials estimate there are about 100 short-term rentals in operation at Rogers; so far, 17 have obtained business licenses, according to a city spokesperson.

Springdale, Bentonville, and Fort Smith do not have ordinances specific to regulating short-term rentals.

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For more information or to apply for a commercial license for short-term rental, go to:

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