North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

160 Ridge Road

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Searching for the Right Approach: Regulating Short-Term Rentals in North Carolina

October 3, 2018

96 N.C. L. Rev. 1821 (2018)


Short-term rentals ("STRs"), such as Airbnb, offer convenient and often cheaper alternatives to hotels, but these rentals are not without controversy. Opponents of STRs argue that they diminish housing stock, cause cities to lose out on tax revenue, and disrupt community atmosphere and safety. These services have presented particular challenges for communities that are heavily impacted by tourism and have sparked contentious legal discussions across the nation.


North Carolina is not immune to such challenges. North Carolina’s two largest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh, as well as popular vacation destinations, including Asheville and Wilmington, have either already enacted or are considering local regulations governing short-term vacation rentals. Additionally, the focus on STRs has highlighted significant gaps in North Carolina’s existing statutes and local regulations that aim to regulate rental properties. Maintaining the current patchwork of state laws and local regulations that address STRs may ultimately prove unworkable as new issues arise and put stress on the current legal status quo.


This Comment reviews the current ways that North Carolina and some of its cities have attempted to regulate STRs, identifies gaps in the current legal structure, and suggests areas for statutory and regulatory improvement. This Comment aims to contribute to the statewide discussion on STRs and, ultimately, help to create a coherent regulatory system in which citizens have a better understanding of the state and local laws that affect them as they rent out their properties or stay as guests at STRs.



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