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NCVRMA Steps Up Short-Term Rental Advocacy

With revenues up 5% year-over-year during a global pandemic and a market cap exceeding the combined valuation of Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Airbnb demonstrates significant continued growth potential in the commercial market for underutilized residential space. And in an environment of record home prices and rising living costs, buyers and residents in tourism-intensive communities nationwide are increasingly leveraging the online short-term rental market to achieve and maintain homeownership. As visitors enjoy the enhanced access short-term rentals allow to areas of small towns and big cities beyond the vicinity of conventional hotels, local residents and elected officials are taking notice. Spurred by actual and pretended nuisance, traffic, and safety concerns, local short-term rental restrictions and vigorous neighbor-against-neighbor debates about them have proliferated across coastal, mountain, and urban communities and the pages of national newspapers. In North Carolina, short-term rental politics reached the general assembly this session via H.B. 829, which seeks to restore statutory restrictions on local government authority implicated in an important property rights case involving the City of Wilmington’s short-term rental regulations. In recent months, NC REALTORS® has supported NCVRMA and other organizational stakeholders with grassroots efforts at the state and local levels to protect homeowners’ rights to this essential but increasingly embattled residential use.

When short-term rental opponents Fayetteville successfully lobbied local elected officials to develop a proposed ordinance restricting whole-house short-term rentals to commercial districts, NCVRMA and NC REALTORS® members stepped in to protect the availability of safe temporary housing for the many military personnel who rely on residential rentals while training at Fort Bragg. Sedulous outreach from the REALTOR® community ultimately persuaded a majority of the city council to discard the proposed ordinance. In Chapel Hill, a recent proposal would have banned all short-term rentals in residential zones, but extensive engagement from NCVRMA and NC REALTORS® members moderated the ordinance to allow continued rentals in residentially-zoned property where a homeowner is present at least 180 days a year. Property rights advocates also secured an 18-month delay in the effective date of the Chapel Hill ordinance pending planning staff’s collection and review of nuisance, occupancy, and other data to contextualize the local short-term rental debate. In Southern Shores, a narrow constituency of residents successfully advocated local officials’ development of a proposed ordinance imposing highly prescriptive permitting requirements on events in residential rentals, but NCVRMA and NC REALTORS® members organized decisive public opposition culminating in the town council’s denial of the planning board’s anti-property-rights recommendations. NC REALTORS® members and staff are currently undertaking to replicate these successes in multiple communities pursuing hostile regulation, including Burke County, Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Southport.

NC REALTORS® members and staff will continue to vigorously oppose local efforts to deprive homeowners of the right to any residential use permitted by state law, importantly including the right to operate short-term rentals. As H.B. 829 makes progress in the North Carolina Senate with REALTOR® support, NC REALTORS® remains committed to refining and implementing successful local advocacy strategies to shield homeowners and property managers, retail merchants, and other visitor-sector operators from capricious, invasive, and uninformed government action against short-term rentals. To learn more, please contact Pam Melton, NC REALTORS® Director of Political & External Communications at or (919) 573-0992.

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