While short-term rentals, such as Vacation Rentals By Owners (VRBO), are growing in popularity as an alternative to hotels for travelers or those looking for a staycation, the rentals are not popular among local city governments.
Ridgeland’s Mayor Gene McGee said he will never consider allowing VRBO, or the likes of it, in Ridgeland. He believes having it in the city would hurt tourism in Ridgeland.
“[Short-term rentals] don’t pay tourism tax which hurts our tourism commission who uses funds to promote tourism,” McGee said. “We believe short term rental does not provide a positive image for the city nor does it help our economy grow.”
Without these short-term rentals as an option, McGee said it helps fill up their hotels, which is important to the industry.
“The hotel industry helps our economy grow,” McGee said.
Ridgeland’s zoning ordinance does not allow for a dwelling unit to be rented for less than 30 days. Any dwelling unit rented for more than 30 days and less than 90 days must be issued a license by the mayor and board of aldermen.
“No one has ever requested this license, so nothing in Ridgeland should be rented for less than 90 days,” Director of Public Works Alan Hart said.
Madison’s government doesn’t allow for the short-term rentals either. Madison’s Director of Community Development Kianca Stringfellow said VRBO, AirBnB and other short term rentals are not currently listed in Madison’s zoning ordinances as an allowable use. The city adopted the Rental Inspection and Property Licensing Act as a response to the increased amount of rental properties not being maintained by absentee and out of state owners.
“The city desires to preserve and protect single-family residential communities,” Stringfellow said. “To lease a residential property, the landlord must obtain a certificate of compliance which is valid for one year or until the present lease is terminated, whichever occurs first. If the lease is terminated prior to the expiration of one year, and the landlord intends to lease to a different tenant, the landlord must obtain a new inspection and certificate of compliance prior to renting the property.”
In Jackson, while these short-term rentals are allowable, not everyone is happy about it. City Councilman Ashby Foote said there are currently no VRBO ordinances in Jackson at the time, but it is an important topic to be addressed. One neighborhood association is looking for changes to be made to the zoning ordinance to include rules and regulations for short term rental properties.
Morrell Richardson, an owner and spokesperson for a condo association along Lakeland Drive near Mayes Lake, said he had an individual create an AirBnB next door to him, and it has not been a pleasant experience.
Richardson said the individual bought the condo adjacent to him and he was under the impression the man was either going to move in or flip it. However, when the renovations were complete in July, Richardson said he asked a woman walking into the condo if she was the new owner, and she said she was there for the AirBnB.
“He kept it from us until it was too late and then there was an uproar among the neighborhood and we kept trying to get in touch with him and he did not return contact,” Richardson said. “The only way I could get in touch with him was to pose as somebody wanting to rent the property.”
Richardson said it is a six-unit condo, and they all share a driveway, which now has people constantly coming and going.
“Every time we’d step out the backdoor, there’d be a strange car driving up,” Richardson said. “Every time I go out my back gate, I’d see strange people staring in.”
He said the individual also placed a security camera aimed at Richardson’s car and then claimed the camera was vandalized with tape and tried to file a police report but had no video proof. Additionally, Richardson believes the advertising for the condo on the AirBnB is not truthful.
“He advertises free on-street parking where it is clearly posted against parking and a tow away zone,” Richardson said. “He advertised six guests, which we are absolutely not having six people in a three bedroom house. He has just been an awful neighbor.”
The only ordinance for Jackson regarding short term rentals is for bed and breakfasts, which requires a location to either be on the National Registry of Historic Places, a designated Jackson Landmark or a Mississippi Landmark. It must have adequate parking provided, exterior lighting must face away from the adjacent property, and signage must comply with the city of Jackson signing ordinance. Bed and breakfasts must submit proof of this to the zoning division. However, none of this specifically applies to short term rentals like VRBO and AirBnb, but some think these short-term rentals do qualify.
“They are trying to say AirBnB is not a bed and breakfast when it is literally in the name,” Richardson said. “We are pressing him to apply for a permit but he knows he won’t get it.”
A representative of the Jackson zoning department attended one of the neighborhood meetings last week to try to help with the issue. Richardson said he believes it is highly unusual for the zoning department to attend a neighborhood meeting and hopes it leads to the city being able to control these short-term rentals.
“It seems like Jackson has just about had enough of AirBnB taking over, and I think the zoning department wants to look at this as a case to make an example of how to deal with them or prevent them from taking over your neighborhood, so we will see,” Richardson said. “We are really looking forward to the zoning department taking a close look at this saying he can’t do it.”