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Atlanta Is Reviewing Its Short-Term Rental Policy. Here’s What You Need to Know.

City leaders are meeting this week to review how residents can take advantage of Airbnb and Vrbo while protecting local communities.

A city ordinance limiting short-term rentals in Atlanta is heading back to two City Council committees. (Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images)

Two years ago, the city of Atlanta adopted a resolution targeting short-term rentals, like ones listed on Airbnb and Vrbo, through new licensing requirements.

This week, the City Council’s Zoning and Community Development/Human Services committees are revisiting the legislation as they work to clarify the steps to obtain a license and rework requirements of the ordinance that have faced backlash.

The legislation, first introduced by District 12 council member Antonio Lewis in March 2021, was set to establish accountability for owners and protect communities where properties are located.

As we enter the busy season for short-term rentals, understanding the regulations as a current or potential owner will be essential. Here, we explain the ordinance in its current form, as well as the application and documentation process.

So, what should I know about the current ordinance?

First off, to be a short-term rental owner in Atlanta, you must be a resident of the city. Right now, the city caps short-term rental ownership at two properties per resident. One of the properties has to be the owner’s primary residence.

In addition to being an Atlanta resident, you have to pay $150 annually for the license, plus an 8% tax rental fee for each property. The city has created a unique guidebook to help potential and current renters through the process. 

The ordinance includes hefty fines aimed at curbing noise and parties as to not disrupt the communities where the short-term rentals are located.

What exactly is the City Council reviewing? What could change?

The new regulations went into effect on March 1, 2022.

According to a news release, the work session will focus mainly on updating the definition of a short-term rental, clarifying licensing requirements, and adding new procedures to the application process. 

That means you could see changes to documentation requirements, zoning requirements, and current limitations on how many properties a single owner can operate. 

What are the current requirements?

Want to be a short-term rental owner?

You will need to present documentation of proof for the property, like the deed, and additional documents such as a government ID and a short-term rental Homeowner’s Affidavit form.

If applying for a license as a short-term rental on behalf of the primary owner, a short-term rental agent affidavit and short-term rental agent affidavit authorization will also be required. All affidavits, both homeowner or agent, must be notarized. 

It can take up to 10 business days to obtain the license. You can check out videos on obtaining a license and obtaining affidavit documents on the city’s YouTube channel.

You can apply on the city’s Department of City Planning website. You can also use the website to submit complaints and find out how many permitted rentals are in each district.

Why are local leaders concerned about short-term rentals?

Public safety is a major concern for Atlanta residents. Short-term rental properties in the city and metro area have raised serious safety concerns. Between violent interactions at Airbnb rentals, and the rise of “party houses,” some argue the short-term rental industry does more harm than good.

“The ordinance and regulation are necessary to provide quality control in the ever-growing short-term rental industry,” said Greg Pace, the city’s Office of Buildings director, in a statement. “It is a way to ensure homeowners or long-term tenants a way to legally operate a short-term rental unit and earn additional income, while providing additional ways for people to visit our city.”

Why are local short-term rental owners opposed to the limits?

Since 2010, Airbnb hosts in Atlanta have earned a total of $1.2 billion.  Atlanta is a convention and tourist city, so short-term rentals give residents a chance to cash in.  

Add major events coming to town, like the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship game and 2026 World Cup, and there are future financial opportunities for current and potential owners. When Atlanta hosted Super Bowl LIII in 2019, it was reported that short-term rental owners stood to collectively make over $3 million.

I don’t live in Atlanta, but my potential property is inside city limits. Can I still operate an Airbnb?

Under its current version, the ordinance does not allow residents who live outside the city of Atlanta to operate properties inside city limits.

To operate an Airbnb in the city of Atlanta, one of your rental properties must be your primary residence. You will need to bring a utility bill, such as gas, water, or electricity, to establish proof of your residence dating back six months prior to the date of application.

You can check to see if your property qualifies by heading to the city’s online Property Locator tool here.

What if I don’t want to make my primary residence a short-term rental?

According to the current ordinance, an applicant can get a license for their primary residence and, if they choose, the applicant may also include one additional dwelling unit on that license. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to rent your primary residence. The ordinance just requires applicants to get a license for their primary residence first.

It is your choice whether to rent out your primary residence, additional dwelling unit, or both units at any given time.

Ok, I finished my application and received my license. What else do I need to do to get my rental property operating?

The ordinance also requires you to notify the adjacent properties that you will be operating a short-term rental. You only have to notify the properties to the direct left and right of your own.

Notifying your neighbors of the property can also help you avoid hefty fines associated with noise disturbances or short-term rental violations.

The city has a notification letter you can print out and sign here

When can I expect to hear updates from the city on the short-term rental ordinance?

The work session for the current ordinance will be held March 30 from 1-3 p.m. inside the council chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public and will be streamed online via the city’s website, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter pages, and Channel 26.

This story has been updated.