No more one (or two) night stands: Covington slams the brakes on short-term rentals with emergency vote

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Citing the surging number of short-term rentals in Northern Kentucky, the Covington Board of Commissioners approved two ordinances Tuesday night that establish a six-month moratorium on the licensing of short-term rental properties in the city.

Votes were ushered in on an emergency basis, with the ordinances taking effect immediately without requiring a second vote. 

The moratorium gives Covington additional time to research and rewrite regulations protecting residents and neighborhoods against negative impacts from short-term rentals.

Also known as Airbnbs or “vacation rentals,” the city says the short-term rentals can reduce the availability of rental housing in a community, and Covington has begun to feel the squeeze from these properties.

If the number of short-term rentals continues to increase, a threat exists to the “nature” of residential character in Covington neighborhoods, effectively turning “residential neighborhoods into commercial lodging areas and other transient uses,” as one of the ordinances reads.

The City of Covington states that the rush of temporary tenants has led to a jump in complaints about parking and noise. Often these visitors have multiple cars and host parties in these properties, creating additional ordinance issues for the city. 

A rental license is required along with zoning approval as of 2020, setting the groundwork for the regulation of short-term rentals. Fast forward two years, and only 37 rental operators are operating legally in the city with licenses to do so, with three more licenses awaiting inspection. However, the city has reported there are at least 277 different properties listed online for short-term rental after using a “web-crawl” software that combs the internet for listings of these types in Covington that came online this week.

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The current Neighborhood Development Code requires that short-term rentals are individually approved as a “conditional use,” a lengthy process that requires a public hearing before the Board of Architectural Review and Development. With this designation, the city can be extremely picky in the review process to control the number of rentals in an area, as well as give residents an opportunity to chime in on the decision. Currently, a large swath of licenses is concentrated in and around MainStrasse Village and the Mutter-Gottes neighborhood. 

A study of short-term rentals by the Planning and Development Services of Kenton County will make recommendations for such uses in the next few months. Covington is not the only city to take notice as the City of Union is looking into similar regulations and Florence and Boone County have already addressed short-term rentals in their jurisdictions.

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