Myrtle Beach could further restrict rentals in residential areas

The Sun News

Myrtle Beach City Council will consider first reading of a proposal Tuesday that would alter property owners’ ability to rent out homes in residential areas.

The ordinance would change the city’s definition of a “short-term” rental to fewer than 90 days. Currently, a rental is considered short-term if it is fewer than 30 days.

Renting homes on a short-term basis is prohibited in “just about every pure residential zone,” city manager John Pedersen said.

Pedersen said a few residents had told the city some property owners were improperly renting homes. He said the change would also bring the city’s law in line with state law, which defines a short-term rental as a period of fewer than 90 days when making determinations related to taxes.

The change is also intended to grapple with a loophole that brought weekly renters to residential areas, and stipulates that a 90-day rental must be extended to the same person for the entire period.

“At least one of the loopholes was a technical loophole that someone would produce a 30-day rental agreement when their renters only, in actuality, stayed for seven days,” Pedersen said.

Councilman Wayne Gray said he’s in favor of the measure, and that it would help stop those who are breaking code stipulations in single-family, residential areas.

“Whether they’re renting it through HomeAway or AirBnB or telephone or personal referral, they’re figuring out a way to rent that home as if it were allowed to be rented on a short-term nature, which it’s not,” Gray said. “So we can’t obviously have people violating the zoning code.”

The city’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the measure on Nov. 15. Because of an adjusted holiday schedule and the need to wait for that meeting, Pedersen said, the city would not be able to consider a second reading of the ordinance until Dec. 13.

The ordinance that council will consider Tuesday, however, also stipulates that the city stop issuing any new permits or licenses allowing rentals under 90 days in residential areas. The freeze would lapse with the passage of a second reading, Pedersen said.

Pedersen said he did not anticipate push-back on the measure. Gray said it was possible some homeowners who rent properties between 30 and 90 days could be affected.

“My suspicion is those instances are rare in a single-family residentially-zoned area,” Gray said. “Obviously we have a pretty big snowbird business, right? Most of the snowbirds, I think, are renting condos or golf villas or properties that are already allowed to be rented on a short-term [basis].”

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ