By Ted Shockley

 

The Northampton County Board of Supervisors voted to regulate short-term rentals, the type of lodging and accommodations of less than 30 days usually provided by online listings.

Regulating them has been a concern in many communities where rentals are positioned in residential areas.

“Let’s start somewhere,” said Supervisor David Coker in the 4-1 vote. Supervisor Robert Duer voted against the measure, saying, “I think we are chasing money.”

Those not registered as the so-called short-term rentals might skirt regulations requiring them to pay transient occupancy tax, which last year added $430,000 to county coffers.

Charlene Gray, Northampton County’s commissioner of the revenue, said during Tuesday’s county meeting that there are 275 providers in the county of short-term rentals, sometimes called “AirB&Bs.”

And that number doesn’t include the highway hotels or anywhere else in Exmore, which manages its own collections.

Most of them aren’t motels or bed-and-breakfast inns — they are short-term rentals by a landowner who has an extra home, extra room or even a camper in the yard.

Call it the “AirBnB” phenomenon, where just about anyone can go online and rent a room for a vacation.

For months, Northampton County has been looking at whether zoning regulations should be adopted to govern vacation rentals of fewer than 30 days. Like other communities, the county doesn’t want rollicking vacationers interrupting longtime residents next door.

The new rules ensure they will pay a business license tax, be within noise limits and follow parking and occupancy rules.