August 22, 2019
Revised Short Term Rental Ordinance to be Considered at September Town Council Meeting
Earlier this year, Mayor Weaver mentioned in Town Notes that the Town would be re-evaluating its existing regulation of short-term rental properties. At the September 3rd Town Council meeting, Council will consider changes to the current ordinance that regulates the operation of short-term rentals. The draft of the revised ordinance will be available on the Town’s website on Monday, August 26. Before being enacted, the ordinance will require a second reading at the Council’s October meeting.
Short-term rentals are a growing segment of Kiawah Island. Approximately 1,250 properties, one-third of all homes on Kiawah Island, are available for short-term rental during some or all of the year. This includes two of every three multi-family properties (villas, condos, and townhomes) and one of every five single-family homes. At the maximum occupancy allowed per home, this equates to approximately 9,500 possible daily rental occupants.
Our existing regulations recognize that Kiawah is a popular tourist destination. They provide property owners flexibility in the use of their homes for short-term rental yet seek to preserve the residential character of Kiawah for its many primary and second homeowners.
The Town’s primary goals in regulating short-term rentals are public safety and ensuring that rental properties do not detract from the neighborhoods in which they operate. For owners of rental properties, these regulations help promote an equal playing field so that those who comply with State, County and local regulations are not disadvantaged by those who do not.
Like other communities, Kiawah is trying to better manage the impact of short-term rentals on the community and address changing trends. In addition to the growing number of rental properties, these trends include more full-time rentals, investor or corporate ownership of properties, conversion of single-family residential homes to rental, rentals operating without local property management, and higher occupancies as larger homes enter the rental market.
Most of the Town’s current regulations — including requiring that all short-term rental properties be licensed, adhere to maximum occupancy restrictions, comply with building codes and safety requirements, and operate in a manner that is not disruptive to the surrounding neighborhood – remain unchanged and will be accompanied with stronger enforcement and greater effort to work with owners and rental management companies to address problems.
The proposed changes are not intended to discourage existing short-term rentals nor add any new fees or reporting requirements. Among the changes in the proposed ordinance are:
- Revisions to the restrictions on over-night parking to address overcrowding of residential properties and control parking in yards and streets.
- Prohibit the separate rental of individual rooms or portions of a home.
- Revise the Town’s zoning code to prohibit certain destination and private vacation clubs, which are commercial entities operating differently than traditional short-term rentals, from operating in residentially zoned areas of the Town.
- Establish future limits to the number of rental business licenses that can be issued in R-1 and R-2 single-family zoning districts.
The establishment of licensing caps will provide the community with a better ability to assess and manage in the future the proportion of rental and non-rental homes. Since the caps established by the revised ordinance, calculated at 20% of R-1 zoned properties and 40% of R-2 properties, are greater than the current number of rental properties and will increase as new homes are built, there will be no impact or disadvantage to an existing owner of rental property. All current rental property owners would be able to continue to retain their rental license so long as they renew their current rental business license each year.
If you have questions about any provision in the ordinance, please call or email Stephanie Tillerson, Town Administrator, at 843-786-5103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the September and October Council meetings will provide an opportunity for public comments. If you are unable to attend and have a comment, or simply would like to discuss the ordinance, please feel free to email Mayor Weaver at email@example.com or Councilmember Chris Widuch at firstname.lastname@example.org.