Property owners ‘really angry’ over short-term rentals in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. – City officials held a public meeting for property owners about regulations for short-term rentals, which are currently illegal in Richmond.

The meeting comes as officials draft guidelines for those rentals following a floor collapse during a house party at a Church Hill Airbnb rental in January.

About 100 people were reportedly partying inside that rental home when the floor gave way, sending folks crashing into the basement and leaving one person seriously injured.

Property owners had lots of questions about what they can and cannot do when it comes the rentals.

"We've looked at what other communities have done, not only in Virginia, but throughout the country," Richmond Director of Planning and Development Mark Olinger said.

While short-term rentals for less than 30 days, which are provided through listing services like Airbnb and VRBO are illegal in the city, thousands of them are listed online.

And there are plenty of Richmond property owners who are intent on doing business, legally if they can.

"We are here today to find out what is my next step as an investment property owner that would like to explore the Airbnb option,” one man said at the meeting.

Jessie Bell, who attended the meeting and is renovating a home on the Southside, was frustrated by the requirements.

“We're really angry. I don't think anybody's happy,” Bell said. "I don't like the idea of them limiting the number of a days a person can rent their home."

City planners said that they are studying the regulations in other localities to use as a starting point.

"Understand those issues (from other localities) and how they might affect us and come up with an ordinance that we think is a good way to start the process and get folks who want to be good operators of short term rentals legal in the City of Richmond,” Mark Olinger said.

Home owner Nelda Hylton believes more input is needed.

"I think we need to get more people involved in the decision making of it,” Hylton said. "People need to get more knowledgeable about Airbnb and what it involves."

Olinger said the city is working on a new ordinance to address short-term rentals comprehensively.

Another meeting on the short-term rentals regulations is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14.

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