Short-term rentals are turning into a lucrative business in Hall County.
Operators could net about $9.3 million in income by the end of 2022, and that is a “very conservative” estimate, Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau president Stacey Dickson said Wednesday, Aug. 17.
In 2019, AirDNA, an agency that tracks vacation rental data, showed 123 units in Hall, generating about $5.5 million in revenue, Dickson said.
As for impact on government budgets, vacation rentals could bring in about $1.1 million this year in hotel/motel and sales tax revenue, she said.
In terms of business activity, “our short-term rentals are pacing the same as all the hotels combined,” she said.
Dickson said Hall has 209 short-term rental properties in unincorporated Hall, varying greatly in price, location and offerings. Rentals could be someone’s house or cottage or a suite in someone’s home.
The CVB gets property information from Host Compliance, which tracks numerous rental services, such as Vrbo and Airbnb.
She showed a couple of examples, including one place renting for $1,300 per night.
“For some people, that’s a mortgage, right?” she said. “And there are three-night minimums at these properties.”
And more rentals are being added at a brisk pace, Dickson said.
“We had 16 new units in the last 30 days,” she said.
Short-term rentals have been regulated in unincorporated Hall for several years.
In 2019, the Hall County Board of Commissioners voted to allow all homes to serve as short-term rentals with the approval of a county business license. Neighbors within 500 feet of the property would be notified by the county when a property has been approved.
Anyone operating a short-term rental without a business license will be subject to a $500-per-day fine while the rental is still being marketed.
Commissioners doubled the fines for code violations. The first violation now comes with a $500 fine, the second a $1,000 fine and the third a $2,000 fine, plus the revocation of the property owner’s business license.
Dickson said she believes all local governments should have an ordinance in place governing the rentals, “regardless of how many you have right now.”
“It’s better to have the rules on the table, for the operators,” she said.
Urban communities “have been having a lot of pushback on short-term rentals, especially because it’s affecting their housing market,” Dickson said. “People are buying condominiums and homes and exclusively using them as vacation rentals, and people who want to live (in the community) can’t find anywhere to live that’s affordable.”
So far, Hall County “is very much in balance,” she said. “209 properties in all of Hall County is not grossly impacting the housing market, but that’s something we’re watching and aware of.”