New regulations and rules on the way for Savannah short term vacation rentals

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – The city of Savannah hears complaints nearly every weekend about vacation rentals. Now they are bringing together those involved in the industry to find solutions.

After city leaders demanded more action, the tourism department will spend the next month crafting new regulations and rules on short-term rentals.

“Literally every home in downtown Savannah could end up being an STVR if we don’t do something about it,” says Clinton Edminster with the Starland District neighborhood group.

The only regulations on short-term rentals involve taxes, fines, and requirements to start one. That parameter of rules and definitions is enough to keep any random person from starting a business, but does little after that as it leans on policing the rentals through what current codes or ordinances are on the books for specific zones in the downtown and Victorian districts. You can see the current ordinance here.

“When I did it, I put in this application and all of a sudden it came back, ‘okay’ check check you got it and I think it should be a little harder to do when they talk about all of these rules, I think a lot of people don’t know the rules that are out there,” says rental owner Elizabeth Heid.

In home rentees like Heid sat in on the meeting that included rental companies and neighborhood leaders from all around downtown. The goal is to find a way to manage the growing industry. They’re looking at ways for owners to have set house rules and practices that keep the rentals from becoming a nuisance for neighbors.

“What we’re really trying to regulate here is a sense of community in Savannah, which is so key when you move to a city you want to know your neighbors, you want to be a part of the community and if we don’t regulate STVR’S we risk losing that,” says Edminster.

The city will look at adding new rules like requiring rental owners to inform their neighbors about the business, setting a limit on number of days in the year it can operate, and how many rooms the actual homeowner can rent out.

“We put a lot of ideas out on the table and I think it’s a matter of having the stakeholders go back and look and review that information and come back to the table working with us to come up with some recommendations in how we can move forward as a community,” says tourism management director Bridget Lidy.

This is the first of a handful of meetings to find solutions to the growth and managing of STVRs. The tourism department has to send a draft of recommendations to city council by July. They plan to host stakeholders again next Tuesday to talk actual rule implications for the ordinance.

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