Those managing short-term rentals in Dothan will be required to have a business license for each property and abide by a set of regulations if a proposed ordinance is approved by the Dothan City Commission in September.
Dothan planning and development director Todd McDonald presented details of the order at a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the short-term rental measure.
In Dothan, short term rentals are residential properties rented for less than 30 days. This can be a room in a house, an entire house, or a secondary suite such as a carriage house or mother-in-law’s house. The market for these rentals, usually found on sites like Airbnb, has grown in Dothan over the years.
But with the market emerging, complaints from residents living near these rentals have arisen, and the city has been considering how best to regulate short-term rentals since last year.
People also read…
“There are a lot of moving parts in this thing,” McDonald said.
There are currently around 80 listings on Airbnb in Dothan, according to Airbnb.com. Many of them can be found in the city’s Garden District.
The ordinance will be on the administrative agenda on Tuesday when the Dothan City Commission meets at 10am. The measure must be announced for three weeks before the city commission can vote on the ordinance at the September 6 meeting.
Under the ordinance, hosts must register their properties with the city within 90 days of the ordinance being passed and obtain a business license within six months.
An accompanying amendment creates a new business license for short-term rentals with a proposed fee of $100 plus half of 1% of the previous year’s gross receipts. Accommodation taxes will also be discounted.
Basically, the proposed order creates two categories for short-term rentals: a short-term residential rental (STRR), which is an owner-occupied residential rental; and a short-term commercial rental (STCR), which is a non-owner occupied residential rental, such as an investment property.
Along with this distinction come differences in how the two types of short-term rentals are treated under the Ordinance.
Generally, both types of short-term rentals must be licensed with separate licenses for each location. There is a quiet period from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Hosts must collect information about Renters’ vehicles and provide that information if requested by the city. A host cannot have more than two notices of violation per year, although these violations must be documented, and short-term rentals cannot have more than two guests per room, excluding children under 12. year.
Tents and motorhomes cannot be used as short-term rentals.
With an STRR, the owner must live on the property and the property must be declared as the homestead of the owner. Utilities must be in the name of the owner rather than an LLC or other form of ownership. An accessory apartment can be rented instead of a room in the main house. No signage is permitted for short term residential rentals and only one additional vehicle is permitted.
For short-term commercial rentals, landlords must obtain a special exception from the Zoning Adjustment Board to be located in certain residential zoning districts, and there must be a 250-foot buffer between such rental properties (unless that they did not exist before the adoption of the ordinance). Owners must provide proof of liability insurance to obtain a business license. STCRs also have occupancy caps and owners must include occupancy restrictions in any advertising.
McDonald said planning staff members were surprised at the number of short-term rentals, particularly commercial short-term rentals, operating in Dothan.
“Commercial short-term rental which is an active market in Dothan,” he said.
Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be reached at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.