RICHMOND, Va. -- Internet lodging services, like Airbnb, violate zoning laws in Richmond which state Richmonders cannot rent out their home, or even a room in their home, for less than a month. Tammy Hawley, spokeswoman for Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, confirmed through email that, “at present, it is not legal to rent your home out in this way.”
The city’s zoning division confirmed that seven people have already been issued citations for using Airbnb. Airbnb is used in countless cities throughout the world and a search of the site revealed hundreds of postings offering lodging in the Richmond area. Many of those individuals are offering up their homes during the UCI Road World Championships which run September 19 - 27.
Richmond-based Joyner Fine Properties even created its own Airbnb-type website, specifically for the race.
“There are 450,000 visitors* expected in Richmond. There's not enough hotels to house those people,” Lacy Williams, an associate broker with Joyner Fine Properties, said.
Joyner created a website to advertise the properties available for the race in September. Williams said the site will remain active despite learning internet lodging services are not currently legal in Richmond.
“We're not violating anything until somebody is actually in a rental property,” Williams said.
Henrico and Chesterfield Counties both confirmed internet lodging services are legal in their localities, but Chesterfield officials said it recently started discussing the issue in the past two weeks.
Chad Williams lives in Henrico County and has welcomed visitors into his home using Airbnb since late 2013.
“I'm able to make additional income for not really doing but so much,” Williams said.
He said he’s made roughly $7,500 using the site to rent out a room in his home to guests.
Richmond City Council member Charles Samuels said the city is looking into whether current zoning rules can accommodate internet lodging services.
“We want to make sure that if we need to make amendments to our zoning laws, to other ordinances in the city code, that we have the time to do it before the race gets here,” Samuels said.
*The Road World Championships website indicated the event is expected to draw 450,000 spectators, not visitors, over the course of the nine-day event.