MARION — After considerable discussion, the Marion City Council voted Monday night to adopt an ordinance requiring any operator of a short-term rental to apply for a license with the city.
According to Marion City Attorney Steve Green, a short-term rental includes any property rented to somebody outside of the operator's family for more than 24 hours, but less than 30 days, including an entire home or a portion of land for tent camping or parking for RVs or campers.
City Administrator Gail West said that part of why this ordinance came before the council at this time was in response to the number of new short-term rental properties which have shown up on websites like Airbnb and VRBO in preparation for the eclipse.
“If you visit Airbnb, you will see two new properties added this week, and four that were established last week,” she said. “We are trying to have an impact on the community. If we don’t regulate this now, we will have to deal with complaints later.”
West also said that because current operators in the city do not have any registration with the city, they may not be complying with the safety code. That sentiment was echoed by Commissioner Anthony Rinella.
“With this ordinance, we can go to the operators and say if you are making money from this, you need to adhere to the safety codes," Rinella said. "Does the apartment have fire-rated sheet rock walls and ceilings or working smoke detectors?
"This ordinance will let us determine that."
West also said operators of short-term rentals are running a business, and are not just renting to local people.
“One property we looked at had 102 reviews since 2014, and some of those people came from as far away as California,” she said.
After some back-and-forth discussion over the definition of family, and whether or not the government should regulate what happens in a private home, a motion to adopt the ordinance was brought to the table by Commissioner Angelo Hightower.
“I have read this, and I have digested it," he said. "It’s pretty thorough. To me, it’s a no-brainer. How about I just make a motion and see which way the vote goes?”
Rinella added, “Renting short-term over the internet is a new thing, but people are already doing it, and we are putting ourselves more at risk by not regulating it.”
The measure was adopted 3-2 with Rinella, Hightower and Webb for it, and Butler and Goss against.
According to the discussion at Monday’s council meeting, as well as the council meeting that occurred June 26, operators will be required to apply for an annual license for a $50 fee.
In addition to upholding safety standards, the ordinance will also allow the city to determine if the addition of a vacation rental will have an adverse impact on the neighborhood or property values.