Wilmington has 3 weeks left to appeal court decision nullifying short-term rental restrictions

Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:49 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Homeowners in Wilmington hoping to rent their properties out as short-term rentals will have to wait a few more weeks to see if the city plans on appealing a judge’s decision that would prohibit the enforcement of current short-term rental regulations.

Last month, a judge issued an order addressing the city’s short-term rental regulations that appear to be in direct conflict with state law. The city’s regulations put a cap on the number of rentals allowed in residential districts, as well as required registration and fees from owners.

State law expressly prohibits municipalities from requiring the registration of rental properties, but that didn’t stop Wilmington from doing just that. While many homeowners appealed the restrictions, it took a lawsuit and a judge to rule on whether or not the city’s ordinance was in fact, in violation of state law.

After the initial ruling and order that deemed the city’s restrictions as null and void, questions as to whether or not city officials would want to appeal the decision remained.

Although the judge’s order, which was issued on Sept. 15, stated there was no reason to delay any appeal of the order, the City of Wilmington has about three weeks left to make a decision, according to City Spokesman Jerod Patterson.

That’s because although the order at that time was important for the case, it was not a ‘final order' - the final order was issued a full month later which gives the city more time to appeal the decision.

“The order from the Judge in September only addressed the issue of whether the city’s ordinance was preempted by state law. The Judge issued a final order on Thursday, October 15, 2020, which incorporated all of the claims in the case, including the dismissal of all of the constitutional claims against the city that he ruled on in February of this year. As a result of the Judge’s new order, the city has an additional 30 days to file an appeal,” according to a statement from the city’s legal department.

After the judge’s decision was announced, City Council met to address next steps in a closed session on Oct. 5, however, what action, if any, the city plans on taking to appeal the decision is not yet known. If the city does not appeal the decision, homeowners would be allowed to rent their houses without government interference.

For the time being, the judge issued a stay on his order at the request of the city, allowing its rental restrictions to remain in place until the court case is concluded.

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