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After hearing from a local Realtor Monday night, the Cairo City Council is considering revisions to the city’s code of ordinances to allow for short-term rentals through internet-based firms such as Airbnb.
Realtor Charles Renaud of Realty Mart in Cairo appeared before the mayor and council this week to request the council make any changes to local ordinances necessary to make short-term rentals through firms such as Airbnb, VRBO, and others legal.
According to Renaud, he has listed his lakefront property on Lake Seminole on Airbnb and successfully rented it out to visitors.
Airbnb, Inc. is an online marketplace for arranging and offering lodging on a short-term basis, typically for vacation or tourism experiences.
Renaud said that the council should “open Cairo up as the Hospitality City.” He said that entire homes down to rooms can be leased on a short-term basis through Airbnb.
Cairo city manager Chris Addleton confirmed that under existing ordinances, short-term rentals is not allowed, but he noted that in many Georgia cities it now is permitted.
“There is a lot of demand and we might even get some hotel/motel tax out of it,” Addleton said.
Cairo city attorney Thomas L. Lehman told councilmen that the Georgia General Assembly is considering legislation regulating short-term rentals and any action the council may take ultimately would have to conform with state law.
“I don’t think they (the legislature) have done much on it, but I expect it to happen,” Lehman said.
According to Renaud, Airbnb is the largest hotel/motel company in the world, but owns no property. The firm acts as a broker and receives commissions from each booking made through the Airbnb website.
Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor expressed support for opening the city up to short-term rentals and he said that it may provide additional incentive to local property owners to “fix up their property and rent it out.”
The council instructed Lehman to prepare a draft of a revision to the city’s code of ordinances and bring it back for consideration.
Renaud told The Messenger that he raised the issue with the council at the request of one of his clients, who has property they would be interested in marketing for short-term rental.
In other business Monday night, Jevar McGhee registered as a delegation to appear before the city council Monday night. According to the application McGhee filed at City Hall, he wished to discuss a large hole in the parking lot at Holder Park that needs to be repaired.
McGhee did not show up for the council meeting, but the city manager reported to the council that he was already aware of the problem.
Addleton said the large pot hole is located near where a dumpster at Holder Park is placed and the weight of the garbage truck coming in and out to empty the dumpster has created a pot hole in the parking lot.
The city manager said that due to green season and crews being committed to mowing currently, the repairs had been delayed.
“We are just waiting until after green season and we will go in there and fill it in with cement,” Addleton said. “I’m not sure why Mr. McGhee couldn’t have talked with (community services director) Pat (Mitchell) or me, but felt the need to come before the council. We were already aware of the problem and had plans to correct it,” the city manager said.