Charleston City Council passes short-term rental ordinance, expands rentals

Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) — The Charleston City Council voted in favor of a short-term rental ordinance Tuesday night. It received final passage with a vote of 11 to 2.

The new rules make short-term rentals legal in more parts of Charleston than ever, including areas off the peninsula like James Island, Johns Island and Daniel Island.

“It’s a public safety issue, it’s a livability issue, it’s a financial issue,” said council member Mike Seekings, speaking on the number of unregistered properties being used as short term rentals. “If you’re out there illegally short term renting, when a hotel next door down the road has a business license is paying accommodations and hospitality taxes, that’s not economic equity.”

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City officials will divide the city into three different zones, with each zone having specific rules. Several regulations are shared across all zones.

The new rules ban full house rentals and require homeowners to apply for a permit for their property in order to be legally classified as a short-term rental. That permit needs to be renewed every year. Homeowners would also be required to live full time at the property and be present when rooms are rented.

“When we’ve got what we believe to be 1,500 illegal short term rentals out there that we don’t have a grip on, we need to manage our city and this is what this is about,” Seekings added.

Short-term rentals were previously only currently allowed in parts of Charleston’s historic district.

City officials say three new enforcement positions have been budgeted to help enforced the new rules upon adoption.

RELATED | City council debates stricter short-term rental ordinances

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