As fall/winter Southern California desert vacation season nears, and vacation rental demand soars, it’s time for a hard look at what’s happening with vacation rental regulations in the Coachella Valley. The city of Palm Springs, with its strong occupancy rate, and investor-friendly permit regulations, continues to be a vacation-rental hotspot. But scarce property inventory and intense competition has led many to operate short-term rentals in smaller neighboring desert cities. And along with vacation-rental growth in these communities has come increased neighbor opposition, and a spate of new city council votes, ordinances and permit restrictions. Here are the new restrictions for four Coachella Valley desert cities that have voted on ordinances in the first half of 2021.
Even with the COVID-10 pandemic in full force across the country, La Quinta saw a 267% increase in neighbor noise complaints between May and July of 2020. That steep rise led to a December 2020 city council vote to tighten La Quinta’s existing vacation rental ordinance.
Changes to permit rules included requiring a local STR property contact to be available 24/7, and able to respond within 30 minutes of being called by STR code enforcement or the sheriff’s department. The city council also doubled noise-ordinance and other permit violation penalties. The new fines are set at $1,000 for a first violation, $2,000 for a second and $3,000 for a third.
As of May, 2021, per La Quinta Ordinance 591, the city added these important new changes to short-term-rental permitting:
Looking for a La Quinta vacation rental investment? These 10 La Quinta “non-issuance exempt zones” are not affected by the new stay on short-term-rental permits.
Similar to La Quinta, Coachella Valley golf paradise Rancho Mirage is moving toward a ban on short-term rentals in non-gated communities. The move comes in response to a massive increase in noise complaints, along with complaints about parking. A January 2021 city council vote skewed 5-0 in favor of a stay on new and renewed permits outside of gated HOA communities. Here’s what the new Rancho Mirage short-term-rental ban means for current and prospective vacation-rental owners and property managers:
Along with the ban on new STR permits in non-restricted HOAs, Rancho Mirage is toughening up its existing STR rules. Among restrictions in this haven for poolside gatherings and al fresco festivities: No amplified sound may be used outdoors, or be audible from outside the property, at any time.
Located between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, popular retirement enclave Cathedral City has seen a boom in vacation rental demand over the past several years. The desert city has also experienced a major increase in neighbor complaints related to STRs in their neighborhoods. Over a 14-month period between October 2019 and November 2020, Cathedral City police reported more than 1,800 complaints and calls for service related to short-term vacation rentals, most of them about noise.
The city has responded with a sharp curtailing of short-term rentals. The new Cathedral City short-term-rental measure, approved in March:
In Palm Desert, famed as the Coachella Valley’s upscale-retail hub, the city council took up the short-term-rental issue in December 2020. In a 3-1 vote, Palm Desert approved a new ordinance that:
Even with new restrictions and regulations, owning and operating a short-term vacation rental in the Coachella Valley can be a lucrative enterprise with proper management and marketing. Find out more about protecting vacation-rental property and profits, and avoiding noise-related fines and damage, here.
Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.
New Lake Tahoe vacation rental restrictions have been issued in two counties—Washoe County and Placer County. The new regulations relate to parking, fire inspections and noise. A third county, El Dorado County (home to popular winter ski and summer water-activities destination South Lake Tahoe), is implementing new restrictions on vacation-home rental permitting. Here’s what the new regulations mean for Lake Tahoe short-term-rental property owners, guests and neighbors, and what you need to do to avoid penalties and fines.
With its stunning setting on the shores of 191 square miles of pristine fresh water, Lake Tahoe is one of the country’s top destinations for adventure travel, outdoor activities and weekend getaways. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this in-demand vacation destination straddles the border between California and Nevada, enticing visitors with its ski resorts, snowboard parks, and world-class hiking and mountain-biking trails.
Over the past several years, the area has seen significant growth in short-term rentals. Washoe County alone, which includes the popular Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas, has more than 1,200 short-term rentals available to visitors for stays of less than 30 days. In Placer County, home of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Northstar California Resort ski areas, VRBO lists about 3,000 short-term rentals, ranging from cozy wood cabins to luxury chalets to contemporary condos.
While the growth in STRs has been a boon to Lake Tahoe visitors seeking more flexible accommodations than a traditional hotel or resort stay, residents have increasingly voiced complaints about parking, boisterous groups and noise. These concerns, combined with a need for more consistent tax collection, and fire safety in this heavily wooded region, have led to the new, stricter short-term-rental license and monitoring measures.
The small Sierra Nevada community of Incline Village in the northern part of Lake Tahoe has about 8,700 residents. But it is home to 90% of short-term rentals in Nevada’s Washoe County, which have been only moderately regulated until now.
Following two years of public outreach and planning, Washoe County representatives first presented new ordinances governing parking, “life safety” (aka fire safety) and noise, in February of this year. The new regulations were adopted in March 2021, and will be phased in over the spring and summer, allowing for any necessary changes or updates in advance of the winter 2021 ski season. The application period starts May 1, 2021; short-term-rental guidelines, tutorials and permit applications can be accessed here.
The major components of the new Washoe County regulations that apply to North Lake Tahoe vacation rental properties include:
Fines for rental ordinance violations are steep, with a first-violation penalty of $400, a second-violation penalty of $700, and a third-violation penalty of $1,000 and potential revocation of the STR permit.
Some of California’s best skiing and snowboarding can be found in the part of North Lake Tahoe located in Placer County. With 12 downhill resorts to choose from, along with miles of backcountry terrain, the region attracts snow-sports aficionados from all over the world.
There are approximately 3,800 STRs in the county, 3,600 of which are located above 5,000 feet elevation. These alpine accommodations are some of the area’s most desirable among visiting skiers and snowboarders. In recent years, area residents have expressed increasing concern about parties, parking and garbage associated with North Lake Tahoe vacation rental properties. At the same time, the county relies on revenue generated by these non-hotel travel accommodations. Now, like adjacent Washoe County in Nevada, California’s Placer County has tightened the reins on STRs, initiating stricter permitting, occupancy limits, trash mitigation and noise control. Placer County STR owners can apply for new short-term-rental permits and permit renewals here. Here are the main ordinance takeaways:
While Placer County permit fees are less than in neighboring Washoe County, compliance-violation penalties are higher. A first citation penalty will run STR owners up to $500 per day, while subsequent rental ordinance violations are set at up to $1,000 per day.
Sunny South Lake Tahoe is located in El Dorado County, and boasts most of the lake’s most expansive and accessible beaches, making it a prime summer vacation destination. With just over 725 permitted Lake Tahoe vacation homes currently in the region, the county is taking a fairly restrictive stance on growth. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently voted to limit the number of vacation-home rental (VHR) permits to 900 in the county’s unincorporated areas, citing resident concerns. The board also noted that in the event that more than 900 permit applications are submitted, a waiting list will be created. Additional new VHR ordinance measures include:
The penalty for a first violation offense is set at $500. If the owner is cited a second time within 18 months, that fine goes up to $750. A third violation in the 18-month window climbs to $1,000.
Own a short-term rental in the Lake Tahoe area? Make sure you’re compliant with all new rules and regulations, to avoid neighbor complaints and costly fines. You can also help protect your rental investment by vetting guests before accepting bookings, to avoid bad actors and out-of-control events. The best way to head off neighbor complaints before they happen? Equip your property with an unobtrusive, 100% privacy-safe noise detection device that measures decibel levels and notifies guests when their volume exceeds what’s allowed.
Atlanta is the newest city to join the short-term rental renaissance of 2021. Which is great news for Atlanta homeowners who want to ramp up revenue from existing rental properties, or make some side cash by renting rooms in properties they occupy. It’s also positive news for investors looking to purchase profit-generating properties for rental to tourists and business travelers. Plus, new licensing requirements, and closer attention by local authorities to noise complaints related to short-term rental properties, should come as welcome news for the many Atlanta residents whose concerns about “mega mansion parties” led the city to reconsider its STR regulations.
The Atlanta city council’s March vote allows homeowners to rent rooms or entire houses to guests for up to 30 days.To do so, owners have to apply for an annual license, pay a $150 license fee, and collect city hotel-motel taxes from guests. The 13-1 vote to allow short-term home and room rentals was roundly praised by STR giant Airbnb, which said it is “committed to being a long-term partner to the city of Atlanta,” and to working with the city to promote tourism. If this sounds like money-making music to your ears, here are four awesome additional reasons to own an Atlanta short-term rental home, unit or room.
Atlanta is consistently cited as one of the most affordable major U.S. cities to buy residential and investment real estate. While the median price of a single-family home in metro Atlanta hit a high of $340,000 in March 2021 according to real-estate brokerage company Redfin, that price is still much lower than other similar urban centers in the country, including:
Meanwhile, real estate analytics firm Mashvisor puts the median price for a multi-family home in Atlanta at $534,923.
Looking at the rental side of things, Airbnb lists entire homes for rent in Atlanta’s trendy Cabbagetown, Buckhead and Peachtree neighborhoods during the city’s high seasons (spring and fall) for an average of $150 to $350 per night, for occupancies of four to six guests.
For private rooms in homes, which usually can accommodate one to two guests, nightly prices range from about $60 to nearly $200. These prices are expected to be significantly higher for dates corresponding with major Atlanta festivals, concerts and hot-ticket professional sports events.
With more than 13,000 tech companies based in metro Atlanta, and new firms launching every week, the city is one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in the country. The 2020 “Deloitte America Fast 500” list of the country’s fastest-growing public and private tech companies includes 24 metro Atlanta companies, compared to just nine Atlanta companies on the list 10 years ago. The city of Atlanta is also a dominant force in the biomedical and finance sectors. And in recent years, the city’s flourishing film and television production industry has brought in thousands of workers who require short-term accommodations year-round.
Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the 1.5-million-square-foot Georgia World Congress Center is the world’s largest LEED-certified convention center, and an in-demand, centrally located space for important U.S. and global conferences and conventions. As COVID-related travel restrictions lift and businesses start holding in-person meetings and conferences once again (GWCC already has such events as the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show and the American Chemical Society Annual Conference on the books for 2021), business travel to Atlanta is slated to grow significantly over the next five years.
Of course, The Big Peach, as Atlanta is affectionately known, is also a major tourist destination. While the city’s tourism industry took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, along with every major tourist destination across the globe, leisure travel is poised to bounce back big time. According to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city’s hotel occupancy rates increased nearly 40% between 2010 and 2017. Looking toward the next seven years, the city expects to see its average 50 million annual visitors grow year after year after year. That’s no surprise, considering that Atlanta is home to:
Add to that the city’s fine climate, serene lakes, superb shopping and bustling nightlife scene, and you’ve got a destination tailor-made for visits from young professionals, families and retired leisure travelers alike.
Citing flexibility, features, location and price as top factors in opting for short-term rentals and vacation rentals over traditional hotels and motels, both business and leisure travelers are contributing to the sharp rise in STR bookings nationwide. These factors, combined with a continued government stimulus program and a sustained high consumer-savings rate make for a great short-term rental outlook. And Atlanta, with its new short-term rental ordinance, is ideally positioned to capitalize on this boom.
Atlanta is home to some of the nation’s most technologically advanced medical facilities, including:
Research firm Healthgrades has given a five-star clinical rating to many of Atlanta’s hospitals, for areas of medicine from obstetrics to coronary care to neurosurgery. Atlanta’s Emory University is renowned for its teaching hospital, which is nationally ranked in 12 medical specialties, and provides services in spine surgery, orthopedic and gynecologic oncology, organ transplants, and stem cell transplants, among other areas.
With its breadth and quality of medical specialists and healthcare centers, Atlanta naturally attracts patients seeking the best possible outcomes. Depending on the specific treatment and recovery, patients traveling to Atlanta often must stay in the area for an extended period of time, either in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility. And, frequently, their spouses, partners or children will travel with them.
Short-term rentals offer these travelers a home-away-from-home environment that differs significantly from hotel stays. Guests can rest easier in a more expansive space, with the ability to cook meals, do laundry and work remotely, in comfort and privacy—both of which are valued at a premium when supporting a loved one through medical care.
Guests don’t have to worry about dressing up, interacting with strangers, dealing with expensive and restrictive parking, or being interrupted by housekeeping when trying to get much-needed rest. Short-term rental hosts can further cater to patients’ families by including helpful amenities in their properties, including gourmet coffee (for early mornings and late nights), bottled water (for drives to and from healthcare facilities), laundry detergent and fabric softener (to make washing clothes more convenient), and thoughtful comforts such as extra-plush towels or a nice bottle of wine.
Properties in Atlanta’s Druid Hills, Morningside-Lenox Park and Virginia Highland neighborhoods all offer close proximity and short drive times to Emory University Hospital. These areas are also popular with tourists, providing a well-balanced market for short-term rental investors. Located between Buckhead and Midtown, Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, specializing in spinal cord and brain injury treatment, is one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the country. Families of patients receiving treatment at this Atlanta medical facility have many options in nearby short-term rentals, which also happen to be located in neighborhoods that are also top choices of leisure and business travelers.
Additional top-notch healthcare clinics and centers are located throughout Atlanta, including Piedmont Atlanta Hospital (located adjacent to Shepherd Center), Northside Hospital (with numerous different specialty facilities dotting the metro-Atlanta region), and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, with three hospital locations in the city.
While the new Atlanta ordinance requires owners to pay a fee for operating as a short-term rental, and requires that taxes be collected and remitted, it imposes few other restrictions on rental owners. The requirements it does impose include:
But that’s pretty much it. Which means that the responsibility for vetting guests, maintaining the property, ensuring neighbors’ rights to a safe, quiet, pleasant neighborhood or building, and avoiding non-compliance fines, lies squarely with the owner and his or her designated agent. Here are three things you can do to fulfill that responsibility, and protect your Atlanta short-term rental investment:
You can find the full text of Atlanta’s new short-term rental ordinance here. Interested in finding out how easy it is to track rowdy behavior and excessive noise at your short-term rental in Atlanta from afar? Get all the information you need, right here!