City asks for input on new short-term rental regulations

City asks for input on new short-term rental regulations

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Planning Commission heard hours of public input Wednesday on its latest version of codes to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO within the city.

The debate is a passionate one on both sides. Those against short-term rentals, many of whom live in the historic district, don't want to see their neighborhood used for commercial reasons.

They say they have experienced problems with parking, parties, trash, and crime due to short-term rentals. Many residents who live in these areas are open to long-term rentals, as long as there are regulations in place.

One man has lived with his family in the historic district for 41 years and he hopes to keep it residential.

"I've seen a lot of things change, and I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of money to make the historic district the crown jewel of our town," Don Britt said. "And it is, and we are continually battling commercial intrusions."

Those in favor of allowing short-term rentals believe they're good for tourism, the local economy, and the growth of the city. They say they already take measures to make sure their short-term renters are not causing problems.

Phillip Gates-Idem owns a duplex just outside of the historic district. He and his wife purchased it to use as a vacation home, and rent it on Airbnb when they're not in town.

"We do make it very clear in our listing that we don't allow parties. We don't want loud noise. We live in a quiet neighborhood," Gates-Idem said. "We also have let all of our neighbors know. We have a neighborhood that is a mix of people and we just don't want to be doing this secretly so we let them know, we work together, and we have not had any complaints."

City officials estimate there are about 400 short-term rentals operating within city limits with little to no regulation.

The planning commission has been working on possible regulations for months and has narrowed down short-term rentals into two proposed categories: home stay and whole-house lodging.

Home stay:
  • Includes individual bedrooms in a home
  • They can't be rented for more than 29 days at a time
  • A home stay property must be someone's personal residence

Whole-house lodging: 

  • Renting of an entire house or dwelling unit
  • A maximum of three bedrooms per unit
  • A manager must be within 20 miles of property

There are also proposed registration requirements and other rules that apply to both home stay and whole-house lodging.

Specific guidelines for both types of short-term rentals can be found below.

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