Short-term rentals now allowed in Jefferson City

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JEFFERSON CITY - Property owners can now legally operate short-term rentals in city limits.

The Jefferson City Council approved a bill unanimously Tuesday night allowing property owners to rent out their homes, which was previously illegal under the city’s zoning code.

The Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission approved the ordinance in October.

Business licenses will be required to operate short-term rentals. Short-term rentals refer to a residence that is rented to an individual for less than 30 days.

Airbnb doesn’t limit the time a guest can stay in a residence and it allows for multiple rentals in a residence, but the new ordinance limits rentals to a single unit for under 30 days.

Property owners renting out one room now have to pay the city’s seven percent lodging tax; before, the tax triggered when three or more rooms were rented.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Erin Wiseman said that short-term rentals became an issue during the 2017 eclipse that brought an influx of visitors to the capital.

"We have become a sharing society," Wisemand said. "We're quite frankly a little bit ahead of other communities even in the state of Missouri who still don't technically allow Airbnb or VRBO in their towns."

Property owners won't be allowed to rent out accessory structures like detached garages without special exception use permits, punishable by up to $1,000 and/or three months imprisonment.

Commercial and mixed-use zoning districts will permit short-term rentals, but property owners will need special exception use permits as well if they live in single-family, multi-family or industrial districts.

The Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings and decide whether to approve the permits. The approved permits will go to the City Council for final approval. Permits are issued in the property owners’ names, making them not transferable.

A maximum of five unrelated people can stay in a Jefferson City short-term rental at a time, but relatives aren't limited.

Parties and receptions will be prohibited in short-term rentals.

"We may be a little ahead of the curve on this one, but it's somewhere where we have got to go," Wiseman said. "We've got to start out somewhere because people are doing it and if we don't start regulating these things or figuring out how to deal with them, we end up with a worse situation at the end of the day."