By Kassie Simmons | May 25, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT – Updated May 25 at 7:48 PM
CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – A new ordinance in one coastal community might put some AirBnB hosts in hot water but some residents are jumping for joy as rooming houses are now banned.
Many Carolina Beach neighbors have been concerned about rooming houses after they say police were called around 50 times for shots fired, drug use and domestic disputes. Lynne Denne said it’s all from one house around the corner.
“It physically makes me sick,” said Denne. “When I found a hypodermic needle, I wept.”
The house in question allegedly charges tenants by the week with little to no background check. Denne said the owner of the house doesn’t live on the property, making it a rooming house.
“What a rooming house is is someone essentially doing that — renting out their property per room,” said Carolina Beach planning director Jeremy Hardison. “Usually, it is done on a weekly basis. As long as they have money for that next week, they can stay.”
Earlier this month, Denne spoke up at a town council meeting to beg them to pass what she hopes is the solution. Town officials agreed that something should be done, but they also noticed the loopholes in the new ordinance banning the rooming houses.
“Trust me, I don’t like rooming houses, but if you live in the house, you should be able to have roommates,” pointed out Mayor Leann Pierce during the May 11 meeting. “If you lease the house yourself, you should be able to have roommates.”
Another gray area: short-term rentals. Over a dozen private rooms are offered for rent on AirBnB, but owners could run into problems if they’re not in compliance with the new ordinance.
“If the property owner is an occupant — lives in the residence — then they can rent out per room,” said Hardison. “If they want to have an extra room downstairs or above the garage, that’s perfectly fine to do.”
Town Council moved to pass the ordinance earlier this month. Now that Denne can officially file a complaint, she says she feels safe in her front yard again.
“There’s enough awareness about it now. There’s enough uproar about it now,” said Denne. People are frightened. They don’t want it in their neighborhood. Do I think they’re going to enforce it? I think they’re going to have to.”
Those who rent out properties under one lease or rent rooms of a property they also live on are not violating the new ordinance. Hardison says anyone not in compliance will have the chance to make changes to their rentals before law enforcement gets involved, but nothing will be done if community members don’t file a complaint.
WECT reached out to the property owner in Denne’s neighborhood to see if he plans on making changes to comply with the ordinance, but he has not responded.
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