CARMEL, Ind. -- Seemingly ending a yearlong debate, the City of Carmel adopted a new ordinance that would allow for its residents to put their houses on rental sites like Airbnb, given they pay the fee for a permit.
The Carmel City Council approved the ordinance Monday, a year after the city's Division of Building and Code Services sent letter to residents who had their houses listed on Airbnb, a worldwide travel website that allows people to rent out their homes to visitors. The letters said the house was part of "Residential Single Family" zoning, meaning it couldn't be used for business. The homeowners then had 10 days to remove their house from the Airbnb listing, or face a fine.
The new ordinance creates an exemption in zoning laws, allowing for somebody to list their house on Airbnb, given they get a Special Exemption application, which costs $100 for one year and $50 for renewal annually.
Anybody with the exemption would be limited to renting out their house to 30 consecutive days.
The council's decision was partially impacted by the Indiana legislature. A bill that would prohibit cities from putting restrictions on homeowners using Airbnb failed in the 2017 session, but the topic was later discussed in a study committee.
The committee’s recommendation was that the policy of the state should be to prevent any restrictions on the use of a person’s house as a short term rental, essentially siding with the homeowners who want to put their houses on Airbnb.
Another wrinkle to the new Airbnb policy is the mayor's ability to suspend the rules. Up to 30 days per year, Carmel's mayor would be able to suspend operation of the exemption, meaning you wouldn't need to pay the $100 fee to get a permit. That suspension could happen for special events, like the Indy 500, a PGA or LPGA golf tournament, or any other big event from which the city would want to receive tourism income.