The Little Rock Board of Directors have been discussing short-term rental regulations within the city since September 2022, but have failed to come to a consensus and pass an ordinance. The group was set to discuss the regulations again at its Tuesday meeting, but the planning commission staff recommended that it be deferred further until Feb. 21.
In early conversations, directors were concerned with the logistics of parking, on-call maintenance, inspections and how the rentals may negatively impact the quality of life in neighborhoods. The phrase short-term rentals includes bed and breakfasts and properties found on popular sites like Airbnb and VRBO.
Now-Vice Mayor Kathy Webb requested the last deferral on Nov. 15, and she said that she had connections in other cities that offered to provide input. Here’s a copy of the current drafted ordinance.
The ordinance is written to tax rentals like a hotel or motel with a 4% tax on gross proceeds. It also would limit the rentals to a maximum of five guest bedrooms — one of which could be in a separate dwelling from the main house. The time of stay would also limited to 29 consecutive days.
A business license would be required to manage a short-term rental property in addition to a special use permit approved by the city’s planning commission. Annual inspection fees would cost $100 per guest bedroom. The fee would be waived if the building falls in a historic district and passes an inspection adding to the district’s structures, according to the drafted ordinance.
Pre-existing rentals in which the owner lives in the house — or within 1,500 feet of the house — would have to demonstrate to the city that they were in operation for six months prior to the passing of the ordinance. Owners would have six months to show proof, then would be required to pay a $150 review fee. If approved, the owner would owe an additional $100 inspection fee. The annual inspection fee and conditions would be the same as the previously mentioned.
Rentals in which the owner does not live in or near the property would also have to prove they were in operation for six months prior to the ordinance passing. The property would revert to its former-use status if an application was not received during the allotted six-month period.
The ordinance also states that a responsible party must be available 24/7 to respond to city officials within an hour to complaints.
Other drafted standards include that a parking plan be provided with permit application, homeowners must have fire, hazard and liability insurance, proper smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed and the primary renter should be at least 18 years old.
The standards also say that private parties such as weddings and receptions would not be allowed in short-term rentals, tours for a fee would not be allowed and no recreational vehicles, buses or trailers should be visible on the street of the property.