Covington to regulate ‘Airbnbs’

New licensing seeks to ensure safety, head off disruptions
COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington is joining cities around the country in adopting specific regulations governing the short-term rental of dwelling units, most commonly known by the Airbnb brand.
At last count this fall, a third-party industry organization found 246 such listings in the city with 205 dwelling units operating here, although nobody knows for sure the exact number. To date, the industry has operated generally without regulation here, other than existing citywide nuisance laws.
The new procedures passed by the Covington Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night have two goals: to gather information about the units – including who is operating them and where – and establish a regulatory framework whose common-sense rules seek to prevent problems with neighbors and ensure the safety of those who pay to rent them.
“The City wants to balance the concerns of the neighborhoods with the ability of people to operate a unique business, while also protecting the health and safety of people who rent them,” City Solicitor Michael Bartlett said.
Short-term rentals are generally defined as residential dwellings (or part of those dwellings) offered to tenants for a fee for rental periods of 29 days or less.
The rules require property owners, i.e. “hosts,” wishing to rent their dwellings to:
  • Check with the City’s Neighborhood Development Code (i.e. “zoning”) to make sure they’re in a permitted zone and follow applicable parking requirements.
  • Secure an occupational or “business” license from the Finance Department.
  • And secure an annual City Short-Term Rental Dwelling License from the Neighborhood Services Department for each parcel.
The requirements will take effect as soon as the City creates the application for the license, Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said. The application and other information will be made available on the City’s website and will be advertised on social media and through a media release.
Before a license can be granted, Code Enforcement officers will inspect the units to make sure they meet basic building code and fire safety requirements.
Note that because the initial influx of applications will create a backlog for inspections, Smith said applicants will be granted a grace period for that particular requirement. Until an inspection can be completed, otherwise successful applicants will be granted a temporary, three-month provisional license that could later be converted to a regular short-term rental dwelling license.
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