Can we be forced to stop renting through Airbnb

by Maya
(Peachtree corners, ga )

Visitor Question: We just received a warning to stop doing short term rentals. To cut a long story short, my husband was involved in a bad accident a few years ago. Due to high medical bills, we rented out our house for a few years. Tenants moved out and left the house in a bad state. We could not rent it out right away. We tried to sell it, but it was on the market for 8 months with no sale.

We decided to cosmetically fix it up and do short term rentals. We have been renting out the house almost a month.

A few days ago we received a letter from the city telling us to cease and bring down the ad from Airbnb. The letter says the city does not allow short term rentals for less than 30 days.

The question is can this be appealed?

Editors Reply: You did not say exactly which ordinance the city says is being violated, but we are going to assume this is the zoning ordinance. Often short term rentals are prohibited, at least in some zoning districts.

If the short term rental is a violation of the zoning ordinance, then this usually cannot be appealed because it is not a permitted use.

So the first thing to check is whether the city is saying you have to remove the ad for your short term rental because of zoning. If so, then ask to have the exact wording of the zoning ordinance where this is prohibited provided to you. If the city says it is an interpretation on their part, your zoning ordinance may well provide for appeal of administrative decisions to a zoning board of appeals, board of variances, board of adjustment, or similar terminology.

However, it will cost some money to apply for this variance, and it also usually takes several weeks, during which the opinion of neighbors may be sought.

If by chance it is a health department or other regulation that causes the city to say that short term rentals are not allowed in your location, follow a similar course of action. Find out exactly which ordinance is being violated, and ask to see the exact wording. If the wording seems less than clear, ask how a decision is appealed. However, often health and other regulations that might prohibit the short term rentals are even more strict and provide even more administrative discretion than does zoning.

Many cities are aggressively looking online to find short term rental ads, so just know that you are not alone. You may have to seek other options for income and economic use of your home.

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