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Concerns over short-term rentals grow locally, across state, too
Committee studying how to regulate, tax Internet accommodation sites
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Monitoring and enforcing Hall County codes regulating short-term vacation rentals on Lake Lanier has proved a growing challenge, according to some local officials and residents.

And a study committee of state lawmakers is reviewing regulating and taxing Internet-based travel accommodations such as Airbnb, VRBO and other rental websites.

The county Marshal’s Office recently opened an investigation on a Lanier home located on Northlake Road that had been operating as a short-term, vacation rental without proper permitting.

“The property owners met with us a couple of weeks back,” said Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala. “We informed them of the restrictions regarding their respective properties. The VRBO listings have been changed to the 30-plus day rental and the prices have been adjusted accordingly. Should they wish to pursue (vacation cottage) rentals, they are aware of the rezoning process.”

The Board of Commissioners has broad discretion to approve or disapprove of vacation rental requests.

Hall County has also faced some difficulty collecting the hotel/motel tax due from vacation rental properties.

Commissioner Scott Gibbs said it might be time to revisit the county ordinance that allows those in certain residential zoning neighborhoods to apply for a short-term rental permit and license.

“(Short-term rentals) are not a good idea in subdivisions,” Gibbs said, adding they should be restricted to vacation cottage zonings.

State Rep. Terry Rogers, a Clarkesville Republican chairing the study committee on the subject of short-term rentals, said he is looking to answer a few things before making any recommendations to state lawmakers, including what constitutes a short-term rental.

The study committee met on Tuesday for the second time.

“It was an extremely productive meeting,” Rogers said. “It was an across-the-board conversation.”

Representatives from condominium and apartment trade groups, as well as the state Department of Revenue (which reports that a mechanism is in place to collect taxes) and Department of Consumer Affairs (which reports few complaints about Airbnb and others) were on hand to offer their perspective. 

The Georgia Municipal Association and Association County Commissioners of Georgia were also in attendance, with each group expressing a desire to see any regulations of short-term rentals handled at the local government level.

Rogers said committee members will submit their opinions and proposals over the coming weeks and try to work toward a consensus on what to recommend in a report that will be released when the study group reconvenes once more.

The committee has until Dec. 1 to make a recommendation to the House of Representatives.

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