Nags Head try­ing to fig­ure out Airbnb

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Local News - By Jeff Hamp­ton Staff writer

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — A house that once served as a dance hall may not seem like an ob­vi­ous va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion.

But Jeremy Grogg, CEO of Kees Va­ca­tions, said he has rented out the home through Airbnb for three years.

“We’ve had great suc­cess with it,” he said.

As short term rental sites be­come more pop­u­lar, the in­dus­try could be fac­ing more reg­u­la­tions here soon.

The Town of Nags Head is sur­vey­ing res­i­dents to fig­ure out if and whether to reg­u­late them. Among the ques­tions:

How would you feel about hav­ing short-term rentals in your neigh­bor­hood?

Do you be­lieve that short-term rentals have any im­pact on the per­sonal se­cu­rity of Nags Head res­i­dents?

Where do you be­lieve short­term rentals are most ap­pro­pri­ate?

What level of reg­u­la­tion do you feel is nec­es­sary for short-term rentals in Nags Head?

“What we’re look­ing at is how to bet­ter de­fine how we want to reg­u­late these uses,” said Andy Gar­man, Nags Head deputy town man­ager and plan­ning direc­tor.

Nags Head thrives as a va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion, and much of its tax base de­pends on week­long rentals at large beach homes. They op­er­ate all over town in res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial ar­eas. Airbnb and other short-term stay ser­vices are not in­cluded in the or­di­nance, but fall un­der the same guide­lines as a bed and break­fast, which must op­er­ate in a com­mer­cial district, Gar­man said. That could change, he said.

“We have not fleshed out de­tails on this at all,” he said.

More than 500 have re­sponded to the Nags Head sur­vey. Fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion from the plan­ning board next month, the town could con­sider new rules early next year.

Cities across the coun­try are try­ing to reg­u­late short-term stays. Nor­folk plans to re­quire home­own­ers who list prop­er­ties on Airbnb to reg­is­ter, get a busi­ness li­cense and pay a tax next year. Vir­ginia Beach passed sim­i­lar rules two years ago, but is still de­bat­ing whether to im­pose stricter reg­u­la­tions, such as re­quir­ing records on renters and lim­it­ing how many can stay in one unit. Some cities have such strict rules, it nearly elim­i­nates the prac­tice.

The town of Duck looked into reg­u­lat­ing “home stays,” but de­cided against it since most of the rentals are weekly, said Joe Heard, direc­tor of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

Short-term stay ser­vices fill a niche in the mar­ket, Grogg said. Kees Va­ca­tions of­fers a va­ri­ety of pack­ages rang­ing from four to eight days or be­gin­ning in the mid­dle of the week.

Airbnb has an agree­ment with North Carolina to ex­tract oc­cu­pancy taxes in ev­ery county, Grogg said. It has no such deal with Vir­ginia, he said.

On the site, guests and own­ers can rate each other — and a bad re­view could af­fect the chances of land­ing an­other rental or find­ing more peo­ple to book space.

Over-reg­u­la­tion could harm an en­ter­prise that ac­com­mo­dates a shorter, cheaper stay for a cou­ple in­stead of a week in a large beach house for a dozen peo­ple or more.

“I’m all for pri­vate prop­erty rights,” said Lori Brooks, pres­i­dent of the Outer Banks As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors’ board of di­rec­tors. “Home­own­ers should be al­lowed to do what they want.”

Per­mits would in­form town of­fi­cials about the ex­is­tence of rentals for safety’s sake, said Aaron Jen­nings, man­ager of Shoot­ers at the Beach, a pho­tog­ra­phy shop in Nags Head. Oth­er­wise, he has no prob­lems with short-term rentals, he said.

A beach home — nick­named “Rose­bud” — sits about a block from the ocean and within walk­ing dis­tance of shops.

Sue Goodrich, the owner, said she would con­sider rent­ing out her house on Airbnb one day. “I would love it,” she said. Goodrich is sur­rounded by con­ven­tional rental prop­er­ties, and the Airbnb web­site lists sev­eral homes in her area. It doesn’t bother her.

“I love this neigh­bor­hood,” she said. “It’s quiet.” Jeff Hamp­ton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hamp­[email protected]­lo­ton­line.com

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