For Cyntia Deis, renting out her mother’s apartment through Airbnb makes financial sense.
“We have a rental property in Raleigh and my mother wanted to occupy the apartment for about half the year,” she said. “It’s not financially available for us to keep it open the rest of the year.”
Deis was one of a few dozen people who attended a community meeting Monday night to brainstorm how to balance local ordinances with Airbnb’s offerings.
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The app, which allows travelers to find private homes to lay their heads, shows more than 300 options in Raleigh, but they’re technically illegal. Any area zoned for residential use specifically prohibits the service Airbnb provides.
“Technically it is a violation,” said Jeff Tippett, who organized the meeting. “In most of Raleigh, short-term rentals are not allowed. So the question became should the code be changed allow short-term rentals, is how it came before council.”
Airbnb is one of many apps that is fueling a “sharing economy,” where services are offered by individuals for individuals. Uber, the popular taxi app that has had its share of controversy, is an example of such an app.
After a neighbor complained last month, city council members ordered Gregg Stebben to stop renting a room in his Five Points home through Airbnb. The city wants zoning inspectors to review the practice and study how other cities are addressing it.
Raleigh City Councilman Russ Stephenson said no immediate changes will be made city ordinances, but hopes some middle ground can be reached.
“So the question is where are we going to start drawing the line between the rules that we already have in place that permit residential rentals in the City of Raleigh as opposed to the Airbnb model,” he said.
A study on the issue will be presented to city council members within the next few weeks.