Dec. 16, 2022 - City Council created a pathway for people who own houses that they rent through such sites as Airbnb or VRBO to operate legally. Previously, short-term rentals were only allowed as an “accessory use” to a home that is a primarily a residence. A whole house rented short-term could become legal by seeking a use permit as a bed and breakfast, but that is more complex and requires the involvement of the state health department.
Such sites have become popular with travelers. Hampton was seeking a way to allow them, to ensure they pay lodging taxes, and also have some control over issues like parking, trash, and noise. Currently, there are an estimated 370 short-term rentals advertised for rent in Hampton, according to a search of website platforms. Of those, only 48 have been granted business licenses and zoning approval. An additional 29 have been denied licenses but are paying lodging taxes.
The new ordinance, approved Dec. 14, 2022, separates short-term rentals from bed and breakfast operations, clarifying that B&Bs also serve meals.
The regulations were crafted with the involvement of a stakeholder group that included neighborhood leaders and short-term rental owners.
The new rules allow short-term rentals in most areas that allow residential and multi-family dwellings, as well as some limited commercial and mixed-use districts. However, owners must obtain a use permit and a business license. Use permits may contain conditions that could include such things as: proof of liability insurance, compliance with building and fire codes, limitations on events, a limitation on the number of guests, and a local contact person in case of issues.
The requirements go into effect immediately, but there is a grace period provided for those legally operating short-term rentals. Those operators will not need to seek use permits until December 31, 2024. The City will also be starting with outreach and education rather than an aggressive enforcement approach to assist short-term rental operators to understand the change and come in to seek the needed use permit approval.
The General Assembly is expected to consider laws governing short-term rentals, and the city wanted to have regulations in place prior to that action. However, the staff noted that there may be changes to the city’s ordinance ahead, including the possibility of limiting the number of short-term rentals in a neighborhood or allowing the zoning administrator to administratively issue a permit, eliminating the need for City Council action on each location.