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Athens-Clarke County Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

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What are short term rental (Airbnb, VRBO) regulations in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia?

Athens recently passed an emergency moratorium on new short term rentals in residential neighborhoods citing noise complaints and other issues from neighbors living near existing rentals1.

To operate legally, hosts in Athens-Clarke County need a business license and must register to pay the 7% Hotel Motel Tax on bookings2. However, many short term rentals are operating without proper permits according to residents3.

The county is working on updating regulations and enforcement around short term rentals including restrictions on location and caps on occupancy4.Some Athens residents on forums like Reddit support allowing short term rentals if the owner lives on site to prevent issues with absentee investors buying up homes strictly as vacation rentals5.

Neighbors have complained about loud parties, parking problems, and other disturbances from short term rental guests not following rules3.As the housing and affordability crisis continues in Athens, the city will likely aim to limit investors purchasing homes for short term rentals while providing an option for residents to rent out rooms in their own houses.

Clearer regulations and enforcement from Athens-Clarke County could help ease tensions over existing short term rentals operating illegally in residential neighborhoods.

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Athens-Clarke County

To start a short term rental business in Athens-Clarke County, hosts need to obtain a business license and register to pay the 7% Hotel Motel Tax according to1 and4. The county defines short term rentals as properties "regularly furnished for value" for less than 30 days4.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Athens-Clarke County

Athens-Clarke County requires all short term rental hosts to obtain a business license in order to legally operate within the county13. This applies to any property being rented out for less than 30 days at a time.

Hosts can apply for the required business license through the Athens-Clarke County Finance Department website. The business license application form and instructions are available online1.

The initial business license fee is $50 for an individual or partnership. The license must then be renewed annually for $50 per year. Failure obtain an initial or renewal business license can result in penalties and fines from the county3.

In addition to the business license, short term rental operators must also register to collect and remit the 7% Hotel Motel Tax on all bookings13. The hotel motel tax payments are due monthly. Hosts can find more details on registering for hotel motel tax payments through the Athens-Clarke County Finance Department as well1.

The county uses the business license requirement and hotel motel tax registration to track short term rental operators. However, many hosts are still not in compliance according to recent resident complaints of short term rentals creating disturbances while operating illegally without proper licensing or taxes45.

Required Documents for Athens-Clarke County Short Term Rentals

In order to legally operate a short term rental in Athens-Clarke County, hosts must have the proper documentation in place. This includes12:

  • Business License - All short term rental operators must obtain an Athens-Clarke County business license which costs $50 annually. This allows the county to track active short term rentals.
  • Hotel Motel Tax Registration - Hosts must register to collect and remit the 7% Hotel Motel Tax that applies to short term rental bookings in Athens-Clarke County. This tax must be paid monthly.
  • Zoning Approval - If required, hosts need appropriate zoning clearance for operating a short term rental based on factors like location, number of rooms rented, etc. Hosts would need to check with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department on zoning requirements.
  • Building Permits - If renovating the property to create a short term rental, hosts may need building permits for construction, electrical, plumbing, or other work. Permitted work would need to meet Athens-Clarke County's building code standards.

Failure to obtain the necessary business license, pay taxes, or comply with zoning regulations can result in fines, penalties, or even orders to cease operations from Athens-Clarke County13. Recent resident complaints indicate many short term rentals are not adequately permitted and licensed currently3.

Athens-Clarke County Short Term Rental Taxes

Hosts are required to collect and pay a 7% Hotel Motel Tax in Athens-Clarke County124. Taxes are due on the 20th day of each month for the prior month's bookings1.

Georgia Wide Short Term Rental Rules

While Georgia does not have a statewide law specifically regulating short term rentals, there are some rules that apply across the state12:

  • State Sales Tax - All short term rental hosts must collect and remit the 7% Georgia state sales tax on bookings. This is submitted to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
  • $5 Nightly Fee - Georgia charges hosts an additional $5 per night fee on short term rental stays. This must be collected and submitted along with the 7% state sales tax.
  • 30 Day Limit - Some cities prohibit rentals of over 30 consecutive days, defining short term rentals as less than 30 days1. However, not all jurisdictions follow this limit.
  • Local Taxes & Regulations - Cities, counties and municipalities create their own local taxes, land use rules, licensing requirements, and other regulations for short term rental operators123. Local requirements vary significantly across Georgia.

For example, Atlanta, Savannah, Sandy Springs, and other cities have extensive short term rental regulations while many smaller Georgia cities have minimal requirements12. Out of state investors need to research rules in their specific target market within Georgia.So in summary, taxation at the state level does apply to short term rentals but Georgia leaves most regulation of these rentals to local jurisdictions. Short term rental hosts must comply with their local city or county laws in addition to collecting and remitting state sales tax.

Does Athens-Clarke County Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on resident complaints documented in2 and5, Athens-Clarke County has not consistently enforced regulations on short term rentals operating illegally without proper permits and taxes or violating noise and zoning ordinances.

However, the county recently passed a temporary moratorium to pause new short term rentals which shows an intent to address enforcement issues5.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Athens-Clarke County

Here are the steps to start a short term rental business in Athens-Clarke County:

  • Obtain an Athens-Clarke County Business License
  • Register to pay 7% Hotel Motel Tax
  • Get building permits or zoning approval if required
  • Comply with regulations on parking, noise, trash, etc.
  • List property on sites like Airbnb and VRBO
  • Collect and pay taxes on bookings

Who to Contact in Athens-Clarke County About Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

For questions on short term rental regulations and zoning in Athens-Clarke County, contact:Athens-Clarke County Planning Department
120 W. Dougherty Street
Athens, GA 30601
(706) 613-3515
planning@accgov.com

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Athens-Clarke County on Reddit and BiggerPockets Think About Local Regulations?

Based on discussion threads, hosts on Reddit and BiggerPockets have voiced concerns about the lack of enforcement of regulations until recently and the temporary moratorium's impact on investment plans235.

Some hosts support exemptions for owner-occupied short term rentals3. Overall hosts want clearer guidelines they can follow to operate legally.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.