Let me address a few myths about short-term rentals that are floating around and add a few points to consider:
Myth No. 1. STRs bring noise, excessive traffic, crime and disharmony to residential neighborhoods.
This certainly isn’t an issue in my neighborhood. The traffic pattern isn’t any more excessive than if a long-term resident rented my property. In fact, I suggest that there is less traffic because tourists usually arrive in one car and spend most of their time sightseeing. Long-term residents (such as a couple) as a rule have multiple cars as well as friends visiting in the evening and on weekends, which results in — you guessed it — increased traffic and possible noise in the neighborhood.
A responsible landlord vets their short-term guests and also immediately addresses any issues of disturbance that might arise. Over the course of eight years, I have never had a guest in my STR commit a crime of any type while visiting. Their interests are in sightseeing and spending money in the various businesses around town, not burglarizing the neighborhood or preying on children as some people have suggested.
Having a long-term tenant does not automatically mean that the quality and tone of the neighborhood is assured. Problematic long-term tenants can cause disruptions and disharmony, and eviction is a long, tedious process, as any landlord knows. If I have a problem with a short-term guest (which has only happened once in the past) I can have them out within hours.
Myth No. 2. STRs limit the availability of affordable housing in Asheville.
This has not been proven by any studies that I am aware of. Most STR owners have invested time and considerable money into renovating, furnishing and maintaining properties worthy of offering guests visiting our city. They are frequently the most attractive and well-maintained properties in the neighborhood. If forced to give up their STR and needed income, property owners are not going to be able to make a long-term rental “more affordable” but would request a rent that is as high as the market will bear.
There must be other avenues City Council could consider that allow responsible property owners with STRs a much-needed income. Why not let the tax revenue that the city would receive from regulated STRs be appropriated for affordable housing in Asheville.
— Asheville resident
Editor’s note: Xpress does not usually withhold letter writers’ names. We made an exception in this case because the writer fears the loss of a major part of his or her income, and Xpress wants to facilitate a full range of discussion on this important public issue.