July 23, 2017

As Airbnb grows, so does enforcement challenge for zoning officials

Apple iPhone 6s with Airbnb website on the screen
Copyright: asawinklabma / 123RF Stock Photo

Tim Dayton and his wife rent out two rooms in their Roanoke home through Airbnb. The Daytons are among just a handful of property owners who have gone through the laborious process to get approval from the city. There are nearly 100 Roanoke properties listed on Airbnb right now, but just seven are sanctioned by the city.

Those are owned by the few who, like Tim Dayton, chose to apply for a so-called homestay zoning exemption, as mandated in most neighborhoods. It was a monthslong process that required him to pay $350, meet with city planners, make safety improvements to his Old Southwest home as requested and agree to abide by the city’s rules for these types of operations. He also had to stand in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals so neighbors could raise public complaints about his Airbnb intentions.

Meanwhile, competing renters continue to operate down the street without authorization — or repercussions.

The same is happening in Blacksburg, where Airbnb lists more than 100 properties for rent. The town has received just 31 applications for homestay exemptions.

Both Roanoke and Blacksburg have passed local ordinances designed to regulate properties listed on Airbnb and similar sites such as Expedia-owned HomeAway. […]

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