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Council Approves Regulations for AirBnBs and Other Short Term Rentals

At its meeting on June 20, 2023, the Sanford City Council approved amendments to Chapter 149, Licensing, Article V, Rental Housing of the City Code, adding language to regulate short-term rentals including AirBnBs. Sanford has several short-term rental properties, including treehouses and “hobbit homes” that are among the most popular in the state.

The following are among the additions to the ordinance:

  • Under Purpose; Intent, two statements were added: Preserve the residential quality of neighborhoods and residential uses to the benefit of Sanford residents; and discourage conversion of housing to transient uses. Support economic opportunities for residents of Sanford and support the tourism economy in Sanford through positive overnight accommodation experiences.
  • A short-term rental is defined as the rental of housing for a period less than 30 days.
  • Language was added to clarify that the provisions of the ordinance apply to tiny homes, seasonal dwellings, and lodging establishments including guest homes and cottages, as well as single family homes and all other traditional rental housing. The ordinance does not apply to hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts.
  • Any rental housing license may be suspended if the building is designated as a disorderly house pursuant to Chapter 114.
  • A section on Insurance required for all rental housing was added, which includes mandatory minimum general liability of at least $500,000, and additionally sufficient property coverage for property replacement or demolition and debris removal.

Additional requirements for short-term rentals include the following:

  • A short-term rental in the Urban, Single Family Residential or Residential Development Zone must be the primary residence of the property owner.
  • A multi-unit property may have one short-term rental unit.
  • A single-family property may have one short-term rental unit or up to two rooms for rent, when defined as a guest home under §280.
  • The occupancy limit for a short-term rental is based on a calculation of two adults per bedroom, with final determination to be made by the Code Enforcement Officer. The occupancy permit must be posted in a conspicuous location in the rental unit.
  • Sufficient onsite parking must be provided. No on-street parking is allowed.
  • No property owner shall have an entitlement or vested right to continue to operate a short-term rental that does not meet the standards in the ordinance after 2023.
  • The license fee was increased $100 per unit for all lodging establishments.

The full City Council meeting may be viewed on Town Hall Streams here and on YouTube here.

Photo credit: Some short-term rentals are located in residential neighborhoods, like this one in Springvale. Photo credit: Google (2019)

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