Vacation rentals of less than 30 days have proven very lucrative and popular in Asheville, a destination for tourists from around the world. But the practice has proven controversial with critics saying they hollow out neighborhoods and exacerbate the city’s housing shortage. Joel Burgess
(Photo: Courtesy photo)
ASHEVILLE — Amid an ongoing debate on the validity of short-term rentals in the city, Asheville property owners brought home the most income as Airbnb hosts of any city in North Carolina in 2017.
The company said Tuesday that Asheville short-term rental hosts earned $19.8 million in 2017, hosting more than 160,000 travelers. Asheville more than doubled the amount travelers recorded in the state’s second-highest earning city, Charlotte. It represents a more than 10 percent increase from income by Asheville hosts from 2016 and is collectively more income than the next four cities combined on Airbnb’s list.
In North Carolina, Airbnb hosts earned $96.8 million last year from a total of 778,000 guests across the state, according to data provided by the company.
Will Burns, public policy director for Airbnb in North Carolina, said the service is a “unique and flexible way” for families in the state to earn money, pay their bills and support their surrounding communities.
“We look forward to 2018 being another successful year of giving residents in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, and all corners of the state an economic boost, travelers more affordable accommodations, and neighborhood businesses more foot traffic.” Burns said in an email statement.
Other Western North Carolina cities in Airbnb’s top 15 include:
Black Mountain: 13,000 guests, $1.4 million of host incomeBryson City: 11,200 guests, $1.4 million of host incomeBrevard: 10,900 guests, $1.4 million of host incomeHendersonville: 10,900 guests, $1.3 million of host incomeSwannanoa: 10,400: $1.1 million of host income
Short-term vacation rentals are rental properties of less than a month, generating cash for property owners and largely catering to a city’s tourism industry.
However, it has become more complicated in Asheville early this month as City Council voted 6-1 to severely restrict downtown tourist rentals. It comes after years of debate as the number of local short-term rentals sites have risen, which some argue have exacerbated the city’s housing shortage.
The change means owners of condominiums, apartments or other downtown homes already hosting short-term rentals on-site can continue to do so if they are already registered with the city. Property owners without permits must come before the council and ask for conditional zoning to do rentals, council member Vijay Kapoor said during the council’s Jan. 9 meeting.
Yet, fellow council member Keith Young, who cast the dissenting vote, said the ban happened too fast. Young was doubtful the council would grant special permission for additional downtown Airbnb sites, if asked.
“You can still come to council and petition the council … but honestly, I don’t think you’ll get it,” he said this month.
The council’s vote followed a 4-1 approval of the measure by an advisory body, the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Citizen Times has compiled a guide to Asheville’s new short-term rental rules. To see if your property is eligible, click here.