Avalara MyLodgeTax > Blog > State and Local News > Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, bans commercial STRs from residential neighborhoods

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, bans commercial STRs from residential neighborhoods

  • Mar 5, 2024 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Georgia neighborhood street with townhomes.

Non-owner-occupied short-term rentals (STRs) have been banned from residential neighborhoods under a new ordinance approved by the Commission of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. Non-owner-occupied STRs currently located in residential zones will be required to cease operations within two years to phase them out.

Previously, STRs weren’t included in the county’s zoning code. Now, an STR is defined as “An accommodation for transient guests where, in exchange for compensation of any type or amount, a residential dwelling unit is rented or otherwise provided for lodging for any period of time less than thirty-one (31) consecutive days.” 

The regulations divide STRs into two categories: home occupations (owner-occupied STR properties) and commercial (properties not occupied by the owner or considered the owner’s primary residence). While owner-occupied STRs can operate in many areas of the county, commercial STRs are prohibited from single-family residential zones. 

Both types of STR hosts are required to get a permit from the county Planning Department to operate. They must also follow rules on parking, nuisances, allowed activities, and occupancy limits. Home occupation hosts must be the owner or provide written permission from the owner to operate an STR. Commercial STRs are required to provide contact information to neighbors within 300 feet of the property boundary and post safety and emergency contact information for guests.

The Government Operations Committee is reviewing the measure and has two months to suggest any changes.

County strengthens enforcement with data collection, new coordinator position

The commission also approved the creation of an STR coordinator role within the county’s Code Enforcement division to focus on STR tracking and enforcement. Athens-Clarke County is contracting with service provider Rentalscape to collect data on STRs operating in unincorporated areas of the county. The data will help county staff identify STR properties that aren’t in compliance to aid in enforcement.

When the commission started discussing regulation of STRs five years ago, approximately 300 were operating in the county. Now there are around 1,000, according to Commissioner Melissa Link.

STRs required to comply with lodging tax rules

All Georgia vacation rentals are subject to state and local sales taxes and hotel-motel fees, and hosts are required to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue. Athens-Clarke County STRs are also subject to county Hotel Motel Excise Tax

State law requires short-term rental marketplaces such as Airbnb and Vrbo to collect state-administered taxes automatically on behalf of Georgia hosts and pay them directly to state tax authorities. Individual hosts aren’t liable for the taxes their marketplaces are required to collect. Airbnb and Vrbo also collect locally administered lodging taxes in Athens-Clarke County. If taxes aren’t being collected for operators, they’re responsible for collecting and remitting the taxes to tax authorities.

MyLodgeTax can automate and simplify short-term rental tax compliance, including registration and filing with state and local tax authorities. For more on short-term rental taxes in Georgia, see our state vacation rental tax guide. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Jennifer Sokolowsky
Avalara Author Jennifer Sokolowsky
Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about tax, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Avvo, and Marriott.
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