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October 19, 2018

Plan to regulate short-term home rentals on hold

Stock Photo
Fauquier County has 117 “unpermitted,” short-term rentals, according to Host Compliance.
I think doing this right is more important than doing it fast.
— Planning Commissioner Bob Lee
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier’s planning commission Thursday indefinitely postponed action on proposed zoning ordinance amendments designed to regulate short-term rental homes.

Five people — four of whom maintain such rentals in Fauquier — raised concerns about the proposal during the commission’s public hearing Thursday night in Warrenton.

The proposal includes rules that address “by-right” short-term home rentals with administrative approval and those that would require special permits from the county board of zoning appeals.

The special permit process includes a public hearing before the BZA.

Among other things, the proposed amendments relate to occupancy limits, the number of consecutive days people can rent the units, owner residency requirements, safety, parking and road standards.

Fauquier has 117 “unpermitted” short-term home rentals — most of them listed with Airbnb, according to Host Compliance, a company that monitors short-term rental conformance. 

Linda Cunningham of Warrenton told the commission she manages a “vacation” home in another Virginia county and one in West Virginia.

Requiring an “annual special use permit is burdensome and expensive,” Ms. Cunningham said.

A short-term rental permit “is valid for one year from the date of approval,” the proposal reads. “The administrative permit, or special permit, may be renewed annually by the zoning administrator prior to the expiration of said permit subject to an inspection affidavit verifying all standards are being met.”

Mrs. Cunningham called the proposal “ridiculous and overreaching.”

Though she and her husband “have been looking for a suitable property in Fauquier to continue our business, if this ordinance passes, we will pass,” she said.

The proposed restrictions also concern Geoffrey and Vicki Lindsay of Northern Virginia.

A Realtor, Mr. Lindsay and his accountant wife and children don’t live on the property “full-time,” he said.

Under the proposal, a special permit would be needed if the owner/property manager:

• “Does not live on-site during rental periods.

• “Does not occupy the dwelling more than 183 days out of the year.”

Renting the home helps grow the local economy, pay increasing real estate taxes on the property and cover college expenses for the couple’s three children, Mr. Lindsay said.

Another speaker questioned the occupancy limit for accessory dwelling rentals. Under the existing ordnance, no more than three people can occupy such a building — a cottage on a farm, for example — at a time.

Commissioner Bob Lee (Marshall District) suggested leaving the public hearing open and delaying a vote to further study the proposed ordinance.

“I think doing this right is more important than doing it fast,” Mr. Lee said.

The commission serves as an advisory panel to the supervisors, which has final authority.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Melrose Carter · October 19, 2018 at 5:24 pm
Much like timeshares without the permanent investment, so some of the people that spoke are really operating timeshares since they own the property.

"I have no specific information about the effect of Airbnb on the timeshare industry, so the following is educated speculation.

I suspect that the effect, at least so far, has been quite modest, largely because there is relatively little product overlap.

People buy timeshares because they are willing to spend some amount of money, up-front and every year thereafter, for a feeling of assurance concerning the quality and style of an annual vacation week.
People use Airbnb because they want a reasonably affordable place to stay at a particular locale and time, and they are willing to be adventurous concerning the accommodations they will receive.
I expect, however, that going forward interest in timeshares will diminish greatly - fundamentally, because millennial's (such as our daughters) will have less interest in tying themselves to a single vacation provider than boomers (such as yours truly) do. They already are accustomed to on-demand services of many sorts. Airbnb likely will have a role, but I expect that new services that no one yet has thought of will be even more important."

Dana H. Shultz, works at Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law
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