SLF Warns Glynn County, GA on Short-Term Rental Registry

UPDATE (October 13, 2020): The fight over short-term rentals continues in Glynn County, Georgia. The Board of Commissioners recently made public its revised Short-Term Rental ordinance which unfortunately still requires the unlawful registry of residential rental properties. At the request of multiple homeowners and professional groups, Southeastern Legal Foundation reviewed the proposed ordinance and sent another letter to the Commissioners making them of aware of the proposed law's legal infirmities.

The only real difference between the County's newest proposal and its original one, is terminology - the proposed ordinance no longer requires a "license," but instead requires an "accommodation tax excise certificate" as a condition to renting out your property for less than 30 days.

The new proposal is nothing but a disingenuous attempt to create an unlawful rental registry. Indeed, the terminology change only brings to light the true reason for the proposal - to end short-term rentals which some in the community and some on the Board of Commissioners see as an inconvenience. This is because Glynn County already requires short-term rentals to pay an accommodation excise tax and to obtain and display a certificate of authority showing compliance. There is simply no need for another law requiring the exact same thing.

UPDATE (August 13, 2020): With the Glynn County Board of Commissioners set to vote next week on an ordinance that would establish a short-term residential rental registry and allow the County unfettered access to rental property owners' financial records, SLF sent a second letter to the Commissioners asking them to postpone the vote to allow for additional public discussion. As SLF has explained on numerous occasions, the Commission simply does not have the statutory authority to inspect or investigate residential property without probable cause or to require the registration of residential property. Any ordinance that includes such provisions is invalid and unenforceable.

In response to SLF's letter, the County has agreed to postpone its vote and revisit its attempts to require an unlawful rental registry.

ATLANTA, GA (July 29, 2020): At the request of multiple homeowners and professional groups, Southeastern Legal Foundation has reviewed a proposed Short-Term Rental ordinance draft made public by the Glynn County Board of Commissioners. SLF sent a letter to the Commissioners warning about state law prohibitions against such ordinances.

The proposed ordinance includes the requirement of a rental registry and gives the County unfettered access to property owners’ personal financial and property records without probable cause. In an effort to educate the Commission on the legal areas of concern presented in the Proposed STR Ordinance before its final vote, SLF sent the Commission the attached letter.

"The Georgia General Assembly explicitly removed Glynn County’s legislative authority to pass ordinances requiring the registration of any residential rental properties and to inspect or investigate residential rental property without probable cause. The text matters," said Kimberly Hermann, SLF General Counsel. "Although it may be tempting to try to work around the state law, we strongly urge the Commission to respect the laws of the State of Georgia."

As explained in detail in SLF’s letter, in 2003, the Georgia General Assembly eliminated the Commission’s authority to pass an ordinance requiring the registration of residential rental property. Because the County lacks the legislative authority to require a property owner to provide detailed information such as taxes, parking, occupancy, individual contact information, and ownership details, the Proposed STR Ordinance is preempted by state law. And if passed, it will be invalid and unenforceable.

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