Hall County is still having difficulty collecting the hotel/motel tax due from vacation rental properties on Lake Lanier.
When the county passed the ordinance about four years ago, it had identified about 175 properties in the Vacation Cottage zoning district that would be required to collect the 5 percent tax.
But to date, just 11 of these properties have been licensed and permitted by the county, each required to submit reports and pay the taxes monthly.
Seven of these properties are vacation rental homes, while the others are campsite and cabin rentals and bed and breakfast inns.
“I’m fine with (collecting the tax) if it’s a level playing field, but it’s not, obviously,” said Jarrett Schleyer.
Schleyer recently bought a vacation home on the northeast end of the lake, near the Olympic rowing venue.
He said the 4,100-square-foot home, with five bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a pool and hot tub, rents for about $4,700 a week, including taxes and fees.
“I find it reprehensible that they enacted this tax and are obviously not doing anything to enforce it,” he said.
Hall County Business License Director Susan Rector said there are several variables that make enforcement challenging.
“First, the ordinance is for vacation rentals of 30 days or less,” she said. “A lot of these homes are rented by the month and more so they will not qualify.”
Moreover, some lake properties listed on vacation rental websites are not within the unincorporated part of the county subject to the tax, Rector said.
Schleyer said he is concerned that charging the tax makes him less competitive than those properties that are skipping out on collecting.
Moreover, vacation properties on the lake located within the city of Gainesville, for example, are not required to collect the tax, potentially making Schleyer’s property less competitive.
“We are working on having everyone come into compliance,” Rector said.