Letter writer: Debunking the myths of short-term rentals

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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.

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15 thoughts on “Letter writer: Debunking the myths of short-term rentals

  1. jzara

    It’s not about affordable housing per se, but housing availability in general. It doesn’t take a study to understand a correlation between a rise in STRs and decreasing available housing for locals. And we’re not just talking LTRs — but homeowner, or potential homeowners, too. Slowly your neighborhood will turn into a row of “hotels”. Sounds like a good plan.

  2. luther blissett

    “Why not let the tax revenue that the city would receive from regulated STRs be appropriated for affordable housing in Asheville.”

    What tax revenue? STRs are already subject to the county’s Occupancy Tax (which is a levy, not a real tax) and by law it goes to the unelected TDA towards tourism-related projects, so it can’t be “appropriated for affordable housing”. And for some reason, people renting on AirBnB don’t seem to want to formally reclassify their homes as commercial property. Is the letter writer a tax dodger?

    “We made an exception in this case because the writer fears the loss of a major part of his or her income”

    Is that because the writer is running an illegal short-term rental property and has, for the moment, avoided detection and sanction? If so, will the MountainX afford the same privilege to somebody running a brothel or grow-op in their basement?

    • STR Myths

      Granted the writer here is not fully informed, but to clarify, according to the NC Vacation Rental Act, short term rentals are classified as a residential property, not commercial. NC Sales & Use and Occupancy taxes are automatically submitted on the owner/renter’s behalf by Airbnb; no tax evasion there. You are right though, it would take a great force to convince TDA to allocate a portion of the funds to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Gordon Smith raised awareness and advocated for this change last year.

  3. Carp

    “We made an exception in this case because the writer fears the loss of a major part of his or her income”

    Yeah, well I fear not being able to pay my rent in the coming years. Buck up

  4. Enough already

    The renters in this town have a sense of entitlement that is not realistic. Sorry you can’t afford rent, the price of living in utopia. Maybe you should revisit your life path. Contrary to popular believe you are owed nothing.

    • boatrocker

      I’ll remember your comments when I refuse to do business with you for being a Mammonite.

      Me and others who care refusing to do business with you for owning private businesses and disagreeing with your political beliefs is oh so legal in NC, by the way. It works both ways.

      Good luck buying food, gas, microbrewed beer, a hotel room, adult diapers or parts for you midlife crisis Harley.
      Guns and ammunition too.

      We will refuse your over tanned FLA wanna be karaoke queen 3rd wife the chance to sing a Fleetwood Mac song at a sports bar.
      We will refuse your millennial grandchildren housing, employment, basic bathroom services and even aaaaagh, wifi services.

      Devil’s Advocate time, obviously.

      To your untrained eye we will look like greedy FOX news viewers and Charlotte transplants, until we toss you and your family out onto the cold unfriendly streets of this town to be accosted by (gasp) locals asking if you are doing ok.

      Yea, Buncombe county renters (Buncombe County has the highest rent in NC) are so entitled.
      Steak and lobster again, on the taxpayers’ tab! Woo hoo!.

      Par taaaaay at the takers’ cribs tonight, awwww yeah! Strippers and nose candy is obviously on your dime. We’re not Jesus or Bernie, after all.

    • luther blissett

      “Sorry you can’t afford rent, the price of living in utopia.”

      Get over yourself, troll. Utopia? Really?

      A day without renters in Asheville is a day when you find the stores and restaurants and bars and schools and hospitals closed, the streets uncleaned, and everything that you presumably like about the city grinding to a halt. Maybe you should revisit your life path to the point where that 4×4 got jammed up there.

      • Steve holland

        Blame the leaders you elected. Quit crying Luther. Everytime a greenway or a new park is built , this town becomes less affordable. Look at Austin, Colorado, California. There is no solid proof that Vrbo’s cause this town to be less affordable. Most renters in this town suck anyway.

  5. boatrocker

    Oh yeah, and for as many times as Mtn X won’t publish LTE names (as per Mtn X posting policy), I smell a double standard.

  6. Yep

    THIS ‘utopia’ is what DECADES of ‘progressive’ democrackkk NON leadership has brought to this beat down ‘city’.

  7. boatrocker

    posting tine- 5:42pm, MOn may 23 AD.
    Ohhhhhh K.

    Mountain X, you are not an objective news source.

    For continually posting LTEs by someone who doesn’t want their feelings hurt.
    A CLEAR VIOLATION OF MTN X TERMS OF POSTING POLICY .
    PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW THAT IS ACCEPTABLE.

    Yep, you have moved me to post in all caps.

    The Mountain X mattered as ‘journalism’ in the late 90’s.

    No more.

    • Able Allen

      Boat rocker, you are sort of correct. Xpress does not usually withhold letter writers’ names. As stated above though in an editor’s note, 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. We might choose to publish letters without names from time to time on request, when an author fears possible legal retribution for instance.

      • boatrocker

        Just as long as the Mtn X can own the fact that by capitulating to the writer’s excuse that he/she “feared for his/her business”, it thereby supports the points raised by the letter and is a double standard without allowing for con LTEs (anonymously of course).
        Also own the fact that is far from objective journalism, which I really do miss.

        Once you open those flood gates, they can’t be closed.
        Please publish this in a timely fashion, btw.

        • Able Allen

          There are many imaginable situations where someone could suffer for their action if they admit it with their name in the paper. We are not judging those people to be right or wrong, but it is important to make a place for their perspective to be heard without fear of retribution. We will always take seriously a person’s earnest request for anonymity. One important factor is whether the person is talking about breaking a law regularly. People arguing for the law would rarely, if ever, require similar protection to be able to add to the conversation.

  8. Chiron Click

    The first part of this letter is correct. STRs bring less traffic, and often less noise than long-term rentals do. The no “stranger-danger” argument is also correct. Statistics from a Bureau of Justice study in 2000 show that only 7% of juvenile sexual assaults are committed by strangers, whereas 93% are committed by someone the child knows.

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