With eye on protecting neighborhoods, council approves new rules for vacation rentals in certain residential areas

April 3, 2018
Orange Beach Vacation Rental Zoning map

With a goal of protecting neighborhoods in Orange Beach, the City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday night to create a new "Vacation Rental" classification, covering hosted and non-hosted rentals of 14 days or less, and also voted 5-1 to establish new regulations that prohibit any new "Vacation Rentals" in certain residential districts, while grandfathering in existing rentals in those affected areas.

As Mayor Tony Kennon and the council have stated many times since broaching the topic late last year, the decision was being made to protect neighborhoods and the quality of life of full-time residents.

The existing property owners with rentals in those affected districts, which includes single-family residential designations of RS-1, RS-2, RS-3 and Mobile Home Subdivisions, also have to purchase a new $500 vacation rental business license within 90 days. The original proposal had the new business license fee set at $1,000 but was lowered by the council after listening to property managers and rental owners.

After the “vacation rental” votes Tuesday, the council also lifted the 6-month moratorium on any new short-term vacation rentals in a unanimous decision. The moratorium had been in place since Dec. 20, 2017. Prior to the new "vacation rental" designation, "short-term rentals" covered rentals from 1 day to 6 months. Now it covers rentals of 15 days up to 6 months.

Short-term and long-term rentals are still allowed in neighborhoods where new "vacation rentals" are now prohibited, unless otherwise restricted by a property owners association's Covenants and Restrictions.  

Since the topic was first discussed by the council late last year and made its way through the Planning Commission with a positive recommendation, the areas where the new vacation rental rules would apply shrunk considerably based on input from the public. The new rules do not affected the Beach Overlay District, which includes all properties along the beach, or Planned Unit Developments.

Additionally, each property owner issued a vacation rental business license will be subject to the following conditions, per the approved “Vacation Rental Ordinance.”

(a) A copy of the License and the Good Neighbor Brochure [provided by the city] shall be posted in a prominent location inside the Vacation Rental unit.

(b) The Licensee shall limit overnight occupancy of the Vacation Rental property to the numbers specified in the following table:

  • Studio/1 bedroom: 2 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)
  • 2 bedrooms: 4 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)
  • 3 bedrooms: 6 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)
  • 4 bedrooms: 8 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)
  • 5 bedrooms: 10 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)
  • 6 bedroom: 12 overnight occupants (plus 2 children age 14 and under)

(c) The Licensee shall provide access to the garage of the Vacation Rental if the garage has been included in the determination of the number of available on-site parking spaces.

(d) It is the intent of the City to enforce all traffic laws related to the provision for emergency vehicle access. Accordingly, no limousine or bus parking, and no stopping without the driver’s presence, shall be allowed in any manner that would interfere with emergency vehicle access. In the event of an emergency, the vehicle driver shall immediately move the vehicle from the emergency vehicle access area.

(e) The Licensee shall provide appropriate refuse and/or recycling service for the Vacation Rental property. Property shall be free of debris both on-site and in the street. Trash cans shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.

(f) The Licensee shall take all reasonable steps to manage the property in a manner that will insure that the Renters and/or Guests of the Vacation Rental property do not create unreasonable noise or disturbances, engage in disorderly conduct, or violate provisions of this Code or any state law pertaining to noise or disorderly conduct; provided, however, that the City does not intend to authorize, and the City does not authorize, the Licensee to act as a peace officer or place himself or herself in harm’s way.

(g) The Owner and the Authorized Agent must be available by telephone 24 hours a day for the duration of the Vacation Rental.

(h) The Licensee shall allow the City, upon written 24-hour notice, to inspect the Vacation Rental for compliance with the requirements of this Article.

(i) Vacation Rental Agreements. The Licensee shall enter into a written rental agreement with the Renters of any Vacation Rental property, which agreement shall, at a minimum, include the following.

  • The name, age and address of the Renter.
  • The terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including occupancy limits, noise prohibitions and vehicle parking requirements.
  • Acknowledgment by the Renter that he or she is legally responsible for compliance by all occupants of the Vacation Rental and any guests with the conditions of the Good Neighbor Brochure and the terms of the rental agreement.
  • Acknowledgment by the Renter of receipt of a copy of the Good Neighbor Brochure, and that they have been explained the terms of the Good Neighbor Brochure by the Owner or Authorized Agent before or at the start of the Vacation Rental term.

Complaints: The Owner or Authorized Agent shall respond within thirty minutes of being notified of a complaint and promptly thereafter notify the City of the corrective action taken and results obtained.

Enforcement. Revocation or Suspension of License: At any time during the term of License, the Finance Director is authorized to initiate proceedings pursuant to Section 50-73 of this code to revoke or refuse to renew any license if the Director determines in his or her discretion that

  • (i) the Licensee provided materially false or misleading information in any submittal required under this Article; or
  • (ii) the Licensee is in violation of, or has failed to comply with, any requirements of this Article. If the Council finds and determines that a violation has occurred, it may revoke or refuse to issue the license; or condition the renewal or issuance upon compliance with such conditions deemed necessary and proper by the Council to insure future compliance, including suspension of the license for a time certain.