City proposes short-term rental permits


Seymour has seen an increase in owners utilizing residential properties as short-term rentals and advertising them on such sites as Airbnb and Vrbo.

According to Indiana Code, a municipality may require an owner of a short-term rental to obtain a permit for each property used for that purpose in order to protect the public’s health and safety related to fire and building safety, sanitation, transportation, traffic control and pollution control.

It’s also to implement and enforce residential use and zoning rules related to noise, protection of welfare, property maintenance and nuisance issues and to prohibit illegal activity on permitted property.

The Seymour City Council found it to be in the best interest of the city and its residents to establish a permitting process for short-term rentals within the city and asked attorney Christina Engleking to draft an ordinance amending city code to require the permit and establish a fee.

During Monday night’s meeting, after some discussion, the council agreed to table the vote for the first reading of the ordinance so the planning and zoning committee can meet to further discuss the topic.

“Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we still wanted to have an inspection for a short-term rental to start and to have a fee associated with that,” said Councilman Bret Cunningham, who chairs the planning and zoning committee.

In the ordinance, a short-term rental refers to rental of a single-family home or a dwelling unit in a single-family home, a two-family or multifamily dwelling or a condominium, cooperative or timeshare for terms of less than 30 days at a time.

The property would be subject to inspection by the city’s planning and zoning and fire departments before a permit is issued only if it’s advertised on one of the previously mentioned short-term rental sites to rent to the public.

Engleking said this applies to property owners who don’t reside at that premises.

“If it’s their primary residence, (the city) can’t require you to have a permit and do inspections. It’s just if you live outside and want to post your home as a short-term rental site,” she said.

The city is proposing a $75 fee for a short-term rental permit. All owners utilizing a property as a short-term rental at the time of adoption of the ordinance would have to obtain a permit within 30 days. If approved, the city planning and zoning department would have to issue the permit within 30 days of receipt of the application.

The permit would expire one year after it’s issued and then have to be renewed with updated information with no fee charged.

If an owner rents a short-term rental without obtaining a valid permit from the city, he or she would be committing a Class C infraction and would be subject to a fine.

If three or more citations for ordinance violations are issued to a property owner within a calendar year, the city may revoke the permit for no more than a year’s time.

Cunningham and Engleking both said pretty much everything in the ordinance is based on state guidelines.

“We have to follow state law,” Cunningham said. “If there are things that aren’t in there, we can’t necessarily just go in there and inject our ideas.”

City resident Tyler Henkle asked the council if someone would be checking to make sure short-term rentals have been inspected and have permits. Cunningham said the city asks residents to respect ordinances that are put in place.

Henkle also asked about the minimum of a short-term stay. Engleking said companies like Airbnb and Vrbo typically don’t offer hourly stays, as it’s more one- or two-day stays.

Henkle was told the intent of the ordinance is to address the ones that are specifically being used as short-term rental homes, not as one hour.

After those questions were asked, the council decided to table the vote until the next meeting, which is at 7 p.m. July 10.

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