Sandy Springs is cracking down on short-term home rentals nearly a year after passing registration and licensing rules and has begun issuing citations to the many who have not yet complied.

The City Council in February 2018 passed rules requiring owners of short-term rental properties listed on sites like Airbnb to receive a business license and pay hotel taxes to try to get a handle on the controversial trend. The ordinance went into effect in May of 2018, but the city did not start enforcing it until January.

The city monitored the rental sites to send notification letters to property owners last year, hoping to register all of the 100 properties it found by the end of the year.

“You have 30 days from the date of this letter to register your short term rental, apply for a business license and fill out the appropriate paperwork for tax purposes,” the letter said.

By mid-January, only two had registered, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in email. The city has started issuing citations to those who have not, Kraun said.

Eight properties were removed from the list after owners said they are no longer used as a short-term rental, she said.

“We are also checking the listings daily to watch for new ones. They will be notified once identified,” Kraun said.

Sandy Springs explicitly allowed short-term rentals for the first time in its new zoning code, which went into effect in late 2017, and passed the registration and license requirements to create some regulation.

Owners of short-term rentals are required to pay all hotel/motel taxes and $125 in fees for the business license, which must be renewed annually at the same price. Other requirements include notifying adjacent property owners and homeowners associations, providing detailed records of rental activity to the city, and giving emergency contact information to everyone living within 500 feet.

Property owners must also post the city’s noise ordinance and be inspected for compliance with all building and fire codes.

The enforcement came as the metro area prepared to host hundreds of thousands of visitors for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl and related events.
Atlanta officials have said their city was planning to implement rules until after the tourist boom. Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook suggested the city use Sandy Springs’ model.

Metro Atlanta cities and local governments across the nation are working on how to regulate the rental properties, which have become controversial, especially in big cities like Atlanta, where they can compete with hotels while avoiding the same taxes and regulations. They can also attract misbehaving guests, as with Buckhead mansions that have attracted a “mansion party”and a gunfire incident.

The Brookhaven City Council voted in late 2018 to completely ban short-term rentals in many residential neighborhoods as part of a rewrite of the city’s zoning code.

State legislation introduced in last year’s lawmaking session threatened to wipe out any local control on short-term rentals, drawing remarks from Jim Tolbert, Sandy Springs assistant city manager that the bill was “frightening” and “dangerous.” The bill stalled and did not get a vote, but it could return in some form.