City officials have revived a conversation about short-term rentals in town after City Council heard a presentation Nov. 5 from Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith.
Short-term rentals, or the rental of a residential unit or accessory building on a temporary basis for less than 30 days, are currently illegal under city code. But the popularity of Airbnb and other residential rental platforms is challenging the code.
“We need to recognize there’s a new economy out there and how do we accommodate that within our existing regulations,” Smith told council during the last meeting.
Council members last discussed short-term rentals in March, when a three-tier set of regulations was proposed to define and regulate short-term rentals in Springfield.
Type 1 would cover properties rented less than 30 days in a single-family residential or residential townhouse district that is primarily owner-occupied. This tier addresses properties not rented for more than 95 days in a calendar year.
Type 2 properties would be defined as those that aren’t primary residences of the owners and that are rented for a period of less than 30 consecutive days in a single-family residential or residential townhouse district. No two Type 2 short-term rentals can be within 500 feet of each other, according to the proposal.
Type 3 short-term rentals would be rented for a period of less than 30 consecutive days in districts other than single-family residential or residential townhouse.
All three types would need an annual business license, according to city documents. Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance to amend the city code for short-term rentals on Nov. 19.
The rise of the short-term rental industry brings with it concerns of commercial activity filtering into residential areas and a potentially uneven playing field in the regulations and inspections that govern hotel rentals.
“There have been instances in other communities where apartment houses have become de facto hotels because they’re being rented out as short-term rentals,” Smith said.
Airbnb lists 184 active rentals in Springfield with an average daily rate of $107. Vacation Rental By Owner and HomeAway list 67 properties with an average cost of $139.75 over the last 12 months, according to the VRBO website.
City data shows a 56 percent increase in short-term rentallistings in the 12 months ending in January, when 44 listings were added to the market. The city last collected rental data in September, where 17 new listings were noted, representing a 15 percent increase from January.
Discussions to revise code started at City Hall in January.
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