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Fayetteville’s City Council Is Looking Into Extending The Deadline For Short-Term Rentals

By extending the deadline for some short-term rental owners to apply for a permit, the city hopes to find those who haven’t done so yet and get them to do so.

It’s illegal for people to rent out their homes for short periods of time like Airbnb and VRBO, so the city’s council passed new rules in April that say they need a business license and a building inspection to be able to do so.

The city’s rules say that short-term rentals can be Type I or Type II. Homes with full-time residents who make a room available for overnight stays, or the whole home is available for guests when the residents are out of town. Type I rentals Those who rent Type II units live in the same house as their guests full time.

owners of Type II rentals must get permission from the city, as well as an inspection and a business license. Most of the time, property owners have to get a permit from the Planning Commission. When that didn’t work out for them, they were given a “grace period,” which meant they could get the permit through staff instead of going through a public hearing before the commission.

In the beginning, the grace period was supposed to end on Nov. 21, but the council pushed it back until Feb. 21. On Tuesday, the council will decide if they want to extend the time again until May 21. People who own businesses in the city could get a full year to meet the city’s rules.

Sarah Bunch, a member of the council, pushed for the extension of the deadline. She said that after an inspection, she heard from four or five short-term rental owners and management companies who needed more time to get their properties in order.

People who live in buildings need to have their chimneys checked and cleaned at least once a year as part of the process. Property owners who find a crack in a chimney could have to wait longer than the Feb. 21 deadline to get it fixed and have their home checked again, Bunch said.

It also would give properties 60 days to go through the city’s process. People who apply by May 21 could avoid having to go to the Planning Commission if they don’t have to go there. After May 20, the owner would have 60 days to get an inspection, fix any problems, and receive the business license and permit he needs. Current city rules say that property owners must finish the whole process by the Feb. 21 deadline.

Any short-term rental owner who wants to apply after May 22 would have to go through the Planning Commission, so they would have to do that.

Those who manage a lot of short-term rental properties need more time to get through the process, says Bunch. She also said that she wants to avoid having a lot of short-term rental applications go to the Planning Commission, which could be a lot of work.

There should be enough time, she said. “By then, we will have learned a lot about it.”

Planning staff think there could be about 500 short-term rentals in the city. Jonathan Curth, the city’s development services director, says that so far, the city has had 423 applications. Staff has approved 193 of the 423 people who sent them in.

More than half of the 230 applications were thrown out because of mistakes or duplication, and another 10 were rejected because they didn’t meet city rules, Curth said. Twelve are still being worked on, and another six are on hold, but they look like they’re going to get approved, he said.

Some 179 applications have been put on hold, need repairs or safety features installed, need to be inspected again, or haven’t filled out the paperwork to pay the city’s 2% hotel, motel, and restaurant sales tax.

When the Planning Commission made a suggestion, they said that Type II short-term rental owners should get a conditional use permit. The City Council agreed with the recommendation.

He said it would be a good idea to remove the conditional use permit requirement if the short-term rentals in Northwest Arkansas were in compliance with city rules. Logan Humphrey owns Cohobnb, a company that manages a number of short-term rentals in the area. Even so, he said that he was happy to hear that the City Council might be able to push back the application deadline.

People should be able to learn more about the ordinance and sign up, Humphrey said.

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