Richmond aims to make Airbnb legal, but it could come with a price

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Staying in a cozy home in the heart of a neighborhood can sometimes be more appealing and more affordable than a stay in the average hotel.

Problem is, short-term rentals are not legal in the city. Still, the popularity of the concept prompted the city to study ways to make it legal, while at the same time protecting residents.

“We find that people who stay at AirBnb listings want to connect they want to mix and mingle with locals,” Richmond resident Fiona tells 8News.

She has been listing her home on Airbnb since 2012.

“We have hosted guests from Germany, the Netherlands, China, France,” says Fiona.

A new city study appears open to allowing these short-term rentals, but in a way that doesn’t violate zoning codes and protects neighbors.

Mark Olinger, Richmond’s Director of Planning, explains it like this: “I moved into a neighborhood, you moved into a neighborhood. You might not necessarily want a hotel next to you or a place that has a significant amount of turnover on a regular basis, that’s why we have zoning.”

So far, short-term rentals have only resulted in seven complaints. Still, the study suggests hosts register, pay taxes and obtain a business license.

That doesn’t bother Fiona.

“I’m fine with that as long as they don’t get too ridiculous,” she said. “You know, you don’t want to stifle business.”

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