Livingston is laying the groundwork for how the city will regulate and officially allow Air BnB’s.
The first reading of the city’s hotel/motel tax ordinance was approved during Monday night’s board meeting.
Building and Codes Official Kristian Mansell said short-term lodging is not currently allowed, but six Air BnB’s are believed to be operating.
“There’s already some operating within our residential zones,” Mansell said. “The thing we want to make sure is the tenants there are safe. So these folks have not yet turned in for any fire inspections, any egress inspections. We saw them on the internet.”
Mansell said that Air BnB’s would need to get a business license with the city and would be subject to annual inspection.
Mayor Curtis Hayes said this enables the city to know who is operating, ensure safety through building codes and bring in extra revenue. However, Hayes said the plan is to grandfather in the existing Air BnB’s when it comes to building codes.
“The ones that are currently here will be grandfathered in from the codes given the fact that we didn’t have the codes at the time we approve this,” Hayes said. “I just want to make sure that we’re clear, it’s not like someone is going to have to go and do a complete gutting of the property. They would be grandfathered in because they did this before we got the codes. However, there will be an annual fee.”
Hayes said the city will collect four percent of the annual revenue from places that offer lodging. Hayes said the city is able to take these steps because of changes to state law.
“Overton County had beat us to the punch several years ago on getting a hotel/motel tax,” Hayes said. “The General Assembly has now approved to where cities can get taxes off of hotel/motel, including short-term rental. So anyone that is a property owner or the owner of an Air BnB, wherever it is, will have to follow these guidelines effective after the public hearing and after the second reading.”
Hayes said that a future step in the process is having the Livingston Planning Commission decide where Air BnB’s will be allowed to operate. Hayes said the city’s ordinance is modeled after Cookeville, Algood and Sparta.