People wanting to rent out their Tega Cay homes online aren't going to find it any easier.
Tega Cay City Council voted April 16 not to change its rules on short-term rentals, which prohibit them outside of separate guidelines for setting up a bed and breakfast. The decade-old rules have been under review since last fall due to more sites like airbnb.com and homeaway.com growing in popularity.
Though anyone using short-term rental sites to rent out homes in Tega Cay is going against its ordinances, the city doesn't actively go out to enforce the rule. If city staff gets complaints, they send a letter explaining the rule to the homeowner.
The decision didn't reverse the city's stance on short-term rentals, but it also didn't add enforcement measures to discourage them.
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“A 'yes' vote means everything stays as-is,” said Mayor David O'Neal.
Chris Leonard, city planning commission chairman, said public input was considered in his group making its recommendation to council. Including an online survey, support was much stronger for keeping the city rules than changing them.
“We took under consideration the likely impact to neighborhoods, balanced against the rights of property owners to use their properties the way they see fit,” Leonard said.
The planning commission also looked into what additional measures similar cities had to take to beef up its rules.
“Cities who have put these kinds of regulations in place have added some layers of enforcement, and it would definitely require some additional resources by the city,” Leonard said.
People who spoke with planning commission members were “almost exclusively against” short-term rentals, Leonard estimates, at about 9-1. For anyone wanting to rent out their home, rules remain allowing for the creation of a bed and breakfast.
“If folks are really interested in doing this, there’s a way forward," Leonard said.
Residents addressing council at the April 16 meeting sided with the decision.
“We worked very hard 10 years ago, because we knew the ordinances were proper for Tega Cay," said resident Liz Duda. "Short-term rentals do not belong in residential Tega Cay.”
Linda Stevenson said there were issues in the past with a neighbor who constantly had people staying in his home.
“I was not allowed to walk down the street without being harassed for cigarettes or to use my telephone, or any other things,” she said.
The argument against allowing short-term rentals involves creating neighborhoods that feel less like home, with unknown people coming and going.
“I’m afraid that it will open up many things that we don’t want,” Stevenson said.
Tega Cay residences routinely pop up on rental sites. Other communities like Rock Hill have looked into what regulations should be in place on short-term rentals.