Tuscaloosa City Council approves Short Term Rental Ordinance

TUSCALOOSA, Ala (WIAT) — The Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday approved a controversial ordinance dealing with short-term rentals that has been the subject of 17 prior public hearings before a unanimous “yes” vote approved the measure.

The ordinance regulates short-term rentals of bedroom and residential homes, commonly known as Air BnB, in Tuscaloosa. It requires homeowners who wish to rent any part of their houses to obtain a business license from the city, and stipulates that rentals must be longer than 24 hours but less than 30 days to be considered short-term.

The new measure also creates 2 zones, one in the city’s historic district and a second around Lake Tuscaloosa, that would be subject to the requirements.

General provisions include requiring homeowners to be availible by phone 24 hours a day during the time their property is rented. It also limits the amount of a property that can be rented to 3 percent. That means that only 6 units of a 200 unit complex could be rented at one time on a short-term basis. The city says this is to prevent residential properties from becoming quasi-hotels.

“As the council stated this evening, it’s not perfect and it’s very likely we will come back and revisit it in the near future as we see what works and what doesn’t,” said Ashley Crites, Land Use Manager for the City for Tuscaloosa’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The new rules go into effect Monday, July 17.

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