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Charlottesville Considers New Short-Term Lodging Regulations

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Charlottesville agreed Monday night to launch a study of possible regulations for property owners who rent out homes or apartments to vacationers. Right now, the city says many of those rentals are not legal under current code.

Websites like Airbnb, Stay Charlottesville, and CollegeWeekends have created a cottage industry for homeowners to host visitors who don't want to stay in a bed and breakfast or hotel. Charlotte Drummond turns over the keys to Butternut Cottage, her two-bedroom home in Charlottesville’s Fifeville neighborhood, for visitors renting through the Airbnb online service.

“I've had people from overseas, definitely folks from UVA - people coming back all the time. People coming in for concerts,” she said.

She moves out when guests come to town. “It's a good balancing act of how much do I want to rent and how much do I need this space myself,” Drummond said.

The city of Charlottesville is trying to balance the interests of short-term renters with business regulation.

“If you're in a stable neighborhood, do you want the people who live next to you changing every weekend?” said Jim Tolbert, Charlottesville’s director of neighborhood development services.

Right now, the "homestay" code requires an owner stay while renting out rooms to visitors.

City planners are concerned about too many people staying in single-family neighborhoods and renters not paying lodging tax. “Let's formalize and study and make sure our regulations are appropriate - that we allow the things that are good and that we structure it in a way not to allow things that could be a problem,” Tolbert said.

Drummond supports some regulation to create a welcome experience for all visitors - no matter where they stay in Charlottesville. “It's a pretty good system, but it is helpful if it's all on the same level playing field,” she said.

The city estimates there are 100 short-term rental properties around Charlottesville.

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