Round Hill Council Eyes Formal Room Rental Regs

Following the nationwide trend of homeowners renting out their homes and guesthouses on Airbnb and other rental sites, the Town of Round Hill might soon jump on the bandwagon and allow its residents to do the same.

Town Administrator Melissa Hynes for the past six months has been briefing the Town Council in preparation for a vote that, if passed, would amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow residents to either put their guests up for free or make money from renting out their properties. Hynes said the amendment would not only benefit residents who need caregivers to live on-site or residents who want to make some extra cash, but it would also give the town a clearer picture of how residents use their properties. “It’s just trying to keep tabs,” she said.

The amendment would allow residents to rent out their homes by one of three ways—as a bed and breakfast, as an accessory homestay or as an accessory apartment.

A bed and breakfast would allow residents to rent out up to eight rooms in their single-family homes, with up to two guests per room allowed to stay up to 30 days at a time. To do this, residents would not be required to live on the property. Instead, a manager would need to remain on site.

An accessory homestay would essentially be an Airbnb, in which residents could rent out their homes to no more than two guests per room for up to 30 days. In that scenario, homeowners would be required to live on the property for at least 185 days out of the year and obtain an accessory homestay permit from the town.

An accessory apartment would allow for residents to choose one of a few ways to use their basements, garages, home additions or small backyard guest homes, which would be required to not exceed 40 percent the size of the property’s primary residence.

One option would be for residents to let their family members, caregivers or other visitors stay for free. Residents could also rent out their properties to guests for up to 30 days or for long-term periods. Either way, the number of guests would be limited to three per living space.

Residents could also just use their properties for private recreation, like a man cave. “The ultimate goal is to have people make the most use of their house,” Hynes said.

The town has been discussing the amendment since it updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2015. Since then, the Planning Commission worked from March 2017 to March 2018 to compile a text amendment package for the Town Council to consider.

The Town Council could vote on the zoning amendment at its Nov. 15 or Dec. 6 meeting.

If the amendment passes, the Town Council could vote at the following meeting to create a transient occupancy tax to collect from the residents who rent their properties. Hynes said that the tax would be less than the county’s 7 percent rate. Residents renting their properties would also be subject to the town’s business tax, which is set at 16 cents per $100 of annual gross receipts.

Hynes said that if the Town Council decides to not approve the zoning amendment, the staff would need to identify the residents who currently rent out their properties without the town’s permission on websites like Airbnb, VRBO and Realtor.com and ask them to stop.

If the amendment does pass, and residents decide to not register their properties with the town, Hynes said that residents in violation would receive an initial notice before any fines are handed down.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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