Union votes to regulate vacation rentals

City of Union sign in Union, Kentucky. Photo by Kaitlin Gebby | LINK nky

Owners of vacation rentals in Union may soon need an operating license starting in 2023. 

The Union City Commission had the first reading of a new ordinance requiring an operating license for homeowners who rent out their property for short-term rental websites, like Airbnb and VRBO. The new policy also includes a 2% occupational tax. The license is $50, and the ordinance may go into effect in January 2023, if passed on its second reading at the next business meeting.  

Union city administrator David Plummer proposed the policy at the Union City Caucus meeting in April. He said doing so will allow Union to follow suit with other cities in the U.S. and prevent one area of the city from being over-saturated with vacation rentals. 

Plummer recommended a similar policy to that of Florence and Boone County’s short-term rental regulations. 

The commission was concerned that having a policy at all was unnecessary and overreaching. 

“In my opinion, we need to research this very carefully on our own. We should not just pick up what community like Florence is doing or what Boone County is doing,” Commissioner John Melford said. “I have a real hard time telling a private homeowner what you can and cannot do on his own property, in his own house. I have a real hard time with that.” 

Commissioner Jeremy Ramage said, “it’s almost like an HOA overstepping,” with restrictions on how they want to use their property. The policy was approved in its first reading 3-1, with Commissioner Eric Dulaney voting no. 

In April, Plummer argued that there is no zoning in Union that allows short-term rentals to operate, given renting them means using a residential property as a business. 

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There are just a handful of short-term rentals that appear in Union, according to vacation rental sites. This new policy may allow city officials to fully understand how many are in the area.