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Short Term Rentals, Should Graduates Worry About Finding a Home In Their Own City?

CHATTANOOGA TN- A big issue that has emerged in Chattanooga TN, the struggle for college graduates, our own Mocs from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), to find housing in the city they grew up in. As the demand for short-term vacation rentals increases, the availability of long-term rental or even financing a new home for graduates dwindles within their own city.

The scarcity of housing options can have significant implications for new college graduates and families who wish to live within Chattanooga. While short-term vacation rentals may serve as a way to make a quick buck for homeowners, there has to be way for locals to have a chance against big corporations buying up real estate.

Recently, the rise of short-term vacation rentals has sparked a heated debate leading even to legal battles in Chattanooga, TN. While some see a cash sign, others argue that it poses a threat to the affordability of residential neighborhoods. The city council has attempted to address these concerns by implementing new regulations, but the issue remains heated, with lawsuits challenging the city.

The popularity of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO has led to a surge in short-term vacation rentals across the country. According to recent reports, the number of applications for short-term vacation rentals in the city was lower than expected ever since Chattanooga City Council paused permits for rentals not occupied by the homeowner.

Video from Chattanooga Tennessee Living on YouTube.

Recognizing the need to regulate the short-term vacation rental industry, the Chattanooga City Council passed new laws aimed at simplifying compliance, increasing fines for violations, and protecting residential zones from overtly commercial activity. Under these regulations, short-term vacation rentals with absentee landlords are prohibited in residential areas but are still allowed in commercial districts that permit hotels. On the other hand, homeowners who live in the household, are permitted in both commercial and residential zones.

These regulations also require a local contact for each short-term vacation rental, who must be available 24/7 by phone and able to address any issues within two hours. If a residential property is rezoned to become commercial, an 18-month cooling-off period is enforced before an application for a short-term vacation rental permit can be submitted. Violations of these rules can result in fines and potential revocation of permits.

Looking for guidance on how to navigate the challenges posed by short-term vacation rentals, some officials have turned to the city of New Orleans as a model. New Orleans has faced similar issues and has developed a regulatory regime that balances the demands of the short-term vacation rental market with the protection of neighborhoods and property owners. One key aspect of their approach is the requirement for on-site ownership, ensuring that the operator of a short-term rental is either the owner or a tenant living at the property.

By placing the responsibility and liability on the owner, this requirement aims to address concerns related to noise complaints, trash, and other potential issues.

Ariel Photo of, Chattanooga Tn, from Photos by Kelly on

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