Planners taking close look at short-term rentals Charleston County leaders study cottage industry boosted by technology, weigh regulations

Websites like Airbnb (above) have made it easier for residential property owners to jump into the short-term rental business.

Charleston County will further study the growth of short-term rentals and started gathering feedback on the issue from residents this week.

Eric Meyer, chairman of the Planning Commission, said he hopes any policy the county adopts runs “parallel” with the city of Charleston’s approach.

“I was surprised myself at literally the cottage industry that’s sprung up here, and how that serves ... the entrepreneur ... as well as the visitors,” Meyer said after a public meeting on short-term rentals Monday. “I’m more of a hotel-type person. If I look at myself as the only means of how you visit a city, then I’m not being sensitive to the fact that there’s a lot of other people who seek out different ways.”

Four commissioners are working with the planning staff to look at how to deal with short-term rentals. Meyer said that is “the rightful thing to do.”

James Island resident Rashaunda Grant, who has been renting out her home for a couple of years, spoke at Monday’s meeting.

“I definitely hope that the county chooses to allow some permissible regulations,” she told The Post and Courier. “I do think that it’s important that the industry be regulated.”

She said renting has “been fantastic” and has helped her make extra money.

Technology has enabled more property owners to rent rooms or entire homes for short stays through websites such as Airbnb. The hotel industry has been pushing cities and states to tax and regulate the practice.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg has said he wants to form a group to study the issue. In the city, short-term rentals — defined as less than 30 days — are already permitted but only in a designated area. Among other requirements, properties need to be licensed and zoned for commercial use.

The growth of short-term rentals has spawned two lawsuits in Charleston. Global Real Property Trust is suing 63 property owners in the city, alleging they are operating illegal short-term rentals, which gives them an unfair advantage. The cases are ongoing.

Reach Allison Prang at 937-5705 or follow her on Twitter @Allison Prang.