Savannah Short Term Vacation Rental Moratorium Update

Dated: 06/27/2017

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This past Thursday I was interviewed by Wright Gazaway WTOC for his story on #shorttermrentals in the #HistoricDistrict of #Savannah! Introducing ANY cap (limit) on the number of #vacationrentals permitted in the city and attempting to control the occupancy density is an infringement on #privatepropertyrights!Image title

Here is a little background to what is going on currently. The moratorium has been delayed for City Council vote until July 6th. A very small group of stakeholders (mostly a couple reps from a few optional membership neighborhood groups and property management companies) are negotiating with City of Savannah Government's Tourism Management & Ambassadorship Department however this is not the majority of actual property owner's voice!! - the question is why and how were they chosen. This isn't the majority of owners and they are upset they have no voice at these meetings... and now proposals are being made ONLY by stakeholders and their attorneys. We should listen directly to property owners... they are who pay property taxes and ultimately allow them to use their property as they see fit whether that's for primary occupancy, 2nd home, long term rental or short term rental.

It is not okay to have arbitrary government regulations that limit owners where some can use their property to whatever the highest and best use is for them and then everyone else outside of a random cap cannot get a permit for STVR (devaluing the home). Do you see where this creates issues and is against a free market? The market will dictate what the highest and best use is for a property. Property owners have invested into our community and helped to improve our neighborhoods. I've spoke to 100s of owners that say having the ability to short term rental their homes saved them financially in tough economic times. We don't get to CHOOSE our neighbors anywhere... but we all understand that buying and living downtown Savannah comes with the coexisting with tourism!

Capping the # of permits allowed will turn into a major fair housing issue if passed! We are hearing neighbors say they want more "families" and hope that limiting the number of STVRs will bring "more families downtown". Let me remind you that familial status is a protected class & It goes both ways. The Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the United States intended to protect the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller or landlord discrimination. Its primary prohibition makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected class.

We also heard from a lady at the last city council meeting, this past Thursday, who wants to be able to rent her property out as a short term rental! She lives outside of the historic districts where city of Savannah took the stance of not allowing any STVRs, several years ago. Prohibiting rentals in some areas but allowing it only in "certain" neighborhoods introduces the idea of redlining which is another fair housing issue!!!!


Short Term Vacation Rental Stakeholders Meeting with City of Savannah


Below is the article from the 11oclock news story Wright Gazaway ran!

Posted: 06/22/2017 10:45 PM

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - City Council passed on another chance to slow down the growing industry of short term property rentals. Council members decided not to vote on that 90-day moratorium they've been discussing for several weeks.

The decision allows people to still submit applications for short term rentals. Stakeholders against the expansion of short term rentals expect a new ordinance to pass in the next council meeting.

Applications are likely to continue flooding in to turn homes into short term rentals. The council's latest decision gives people at least two more weeks.

"I've sold many properties downtown to different buyers that intend to use short term rental as a way to afford their property,” said realtor Jenny Rutherford.

"To have the moratorium happen now and to have a decision to be made about short term vacation rentals in just two weeks time, doesn't make much sense,” said Thomas Square resident Clinton Edminster.

The new ordinance is expected to put a cap on how many rentals are allowed within each ward. Depending on what that percentage is, some neighborhoods will already be above the cap.

"I'm concerned that if the city council passes a cap within the historic district in regards to how many short term rentals are allowed, that we're going to be restricting private property rights,” said Rutherford.

The city clearly sees it differently. Supporters of the cap said the influx of short term rentals takes away from the neighborhood. You can see the density in the map in the Historic and Victorian Districts. Heading a little bit south, folks in Thomas Square are eager to welcome this new industry.

"That's really what we're looking for is to absolutely have more short term vacation rentals in the neighborhood to an extent and not to the density that has happened downtown,” said Edminster.

It's that density that neighborhood leaders said threatens the city's unique downtown environment.

The density issue is the main thing neighborhoods and short term rental owners could not agree on. They're expecting council to meet them in the middle in the vote on July 6th. We'll of course keep you updated on that ordinance and vote.



Downtown Tourism Savannah


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Jenny Rutherford

Meet Jenny Rutherford Jenny Rutherford Real Estate, LLC. Where did you grow up? I grew up on a farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. I've lived in several states, including Virgi....

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