Youngkin amends bill limiting local restrictions on short-term rentals

Published 5:25 pm Monday, April 15, 2024

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has requested minor amendments to a General Assembly bill proposing to limit localities’ authority to restrict certain types of short-term rentals.

If the House of Delegates and state Senate each agree to Youngkin’s changes, the new law, depending on the final verbiage, may or may not nullify elements of Isle of Wight County’s recently adopted process for approving the whole-house rentals that have become popular on websites like AirBnB and Vrbo.

Isle of Wight, on Dec. 14, replaced an ordinance that had allowed the rental of up to two bedrooms in an owner-occupied house to two unrelated people with one that repealed a de facto ban on whole-house rentals. The version of the bill passed by the House of Delegates and State Senate in February and March states  it would pertain only to local ordinances “enacted after December 31, 2023.” 

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Isle of Wight’s ordinance, which requires the county to send written notice by certified mail to the last known address of the proposed rental’s neighbors, doesn’t distinguish between the short-term rental of accessory structures and whole-house rentals. If any neighbors object in writing within the 30-day notice window, the proposed rental would be required to go through the process of obtaining a conditional use permit, which requires public hearings and votes by the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

Senate Bill 544, sponsored by Sen. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond, would nullify any local ordinance passed after Dec. 31 that outright prohibits or requires a special exception, special use or conditional use permit for the short-term rental of an accessory dwelling unit attached to or on the same property as an owner-occupied residence. Bagby’s bill passed the Senate 25-15 and the House 52-38.

Youngkin, minutes ahead of his 11:59 p.m. deadline on April 8 to act on this year’s approved bills, sent SB 544 back to the Senate with two edits. One would delete the phrase “notwithstanding ay the provision of law, general or special,” which in the draft approved by both chambers precedes the wording “no local ordinance enacted after December 31, 2023, shall require that a special exception, special use, or conditional use permit be obtained for the use of a residential dwelling as a short-term rental where the dwelling unit is also legally occupied by the property owner as his primary residence.”

The second change would add “or any subsequent amendment” after “2023” in the same sentence.

If both legislative chambers, during their reconvened session on April 17, agree to Youngkin’s recommendation, the bill, as amended, will become law. Each chamber also has the option of passing the original version of the bill by two-thirds majority or sending the bill back to Youngkin with only one of the two edits approved.

Isle of Wight’s 2023 approval process is currently playing out in Carrollton. A neighbor filed a written objection on April 10 to husband and wife Jeremy and Lucy Kooiman’s recent request to operate a short-term rental at their home on Shivers Mill Lane. The objection would, under Isle of Wight’s new ordinance, trigger the conditional use permit process and associated $1,200 application fee. Amy Ring, the county’s director of community development, confirmed the one complaint was the only one received as of April 15.

Youngkin, also on April 8, signed a related bill to further limit locality-imposed restrictions on short-term rentals.

House of Delegates Bill 1461, which will become law July 1, nullifies any local ordinance that bars renters from offering their apartments as whole-unit short-term rentals “solely on the basis that the operator is a lessee or sublessee,” provided the building’s landlord has granted permission. The bill, sponsored by Del. Candi Mundon King, D-Dumfries, passed the House 75-20 in February, passed the Senate 23-17 in March.

Short-term rental operators, under Isle of Wight’s ordinance, are required to pay an annual $35 registration fee. Failure to register within 30 days of advertising would trigger a $500 penalty for each day past the deadline the property remains unregistered. Mundon King’s bill would allow the registration fee to also apply to apartment dwellers who sublease their units as short-term rentals.

Editor’s note: This story is updated to correct that SB 544 pertains only to local ordinances enacted after Dec. 31, 2023.