Southport homeowners speak out on proposed vacation rental restrictions

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — The City of Southport is considering new rules that could severely limit the ability to rent homes short-term, holding a public hearing during a Planning Board meeting Thursday night.

According to the city, there are more than 100 homes listed as vacation rentals, both through websites like AirBnb and property management companies.

While those homeowners are currently within their right to rent, some neighbors say it is causing a nuisance.

“I have to put up with noise and cars and littering and safety and security to my property, and the properties not being taken care of,” said Tracy Beaulieu.

“We’ve had drunken parties, we’ve had flashers, young ladies if you can believe that,” said Tommy Harrelson.

Under the proposed ordinance, homes in residential districts would be banned from participating going forward. Existing rental homes would be grandfathered in, but would be disqualified if they are ever sold.

However, those who oppose the restrictions believe the rentals actually benefit neighbors and their property values.

“Homes that have been left derelict for years are being purchased and renovated to put into short term rental,” said Rebecca Kelley. “So instead of having a home that is beginning to fall in on itself, we now have a home that contributes to our community and is part of the fabric of Southport.”

Some also argue that banning rentals would be another blow to the local economy after COVID-19 hurt tourism and canceled the annual 4th of July Festival.

“Less tourists equal less sales for those businesses, but it also means less tax dollars that this city needs to operate for upcoming infrastructure projects,” Lucinda Arnold said.

The Planning Board opted to hold off on making a decision following the feedback, and will revisit the topic next month.

You can read the ordinance here.

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