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County gets strict on short-term home rentals

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County is cracking down on short-term rentals after multiple cases of parties and community disruptions occurred.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted Nov. 28 to create an ordinance regulating the short-term home rentals from websites such as Airbnb or Vacation Rental by Owner, or VRBO.

The ordinance defines “short-term vacation rental” as accommodations for transient guests who pay for the home for fewer than seven consecutive days. This includes all housing types except bed and breakfast accommodations.

Homeowners will have to obtain a short-term vacation rental permit with the county before renting or leasing any portion of their home, according to the ordinance.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said this will help establish a data base for the county .

Additionally, a rental agent, which could be the owner, will be designated to the temporary rental. They must be able to respond at all times to any complaints regarding the condition, operation or conduct of the renting occupants.

The condition requires the agent to go to the property within two hours of being notified of any issues from the county. The agent will also receive any warnings or citations.

The owners also must submit an application for a short-term vacation rental permit to the county annually, pay $100 initially and then $50 every year following when the permits expire on December 31 each year.

Failure to obtain the permit would result in a citation and a $100 fine for each month the property was in operation without the required documents. The first violation is a warning, second violation within a year of the first results in a suspended permit for up to 30 days and a third violation within a year cancels the permit.

The commission will conduct hearings on the denial, revocation or suspension of a permit.

This ordinance has been a year in the making after the county began looking into the issue last December when neighbors on Lake Lanier complained of wild, unsupervised parties after nearby homes were rented out temporarily.

In August, Jarrard said this type of issue is not unique to Forsyth County or Georgia.

“In every place that are tourist destinations, folks are struggling with the tension between private property rights and the ability of people to utilize the property for value, as compared to the rights of people who live nearby to also derive value,” Jarrard said. “That value is the peace and quiet and enjoyment of their homes.”

Jarrard said regulations he saw in other communities have the local government painting a distinction between residents who occasionally lease out property, versus absent owners who lease out the properties regularly.

Neighbor Randy Kauk said he’s concerned the homes are no longer being rented out to families, but are being used like a hotel while being advertised and operated like an event venue.

“It’s hard to get your head around still allowing normal rentals,” Kauk said. “You don’t want to infringe upon their right to rent their home. But you have to stop this event venue type thing.”


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