As I previously mentioned, part of our motivation for buying a house in Wilmington was to have a place to stay when we visit. So in addition to fixing up the Church Street House, we’ve slowly been furnishing it so that we can comfortably stay in it and to prepare it for becoming a short-term rental. And we’ve actually gotten a good bit of use out of it already despite not all of the plumbing working properly.
But here’s the catch: the City of Wilmington requires a short-term rental permit for any whole-house that will be rented out for periods of less than a month. And one of the requirements for the permit is that the house must be located on a property that is at least 400 feet from all other properties that contain whole-house short-term rentals. Our house is more than 400 feet from the nearest short-term rental, but what I hadn’t realized is that the edge of our property is only 399.89 feet from the edge of the nearest short-term rental’s property.
Yup. Our application was denied because we have an inch and a half too much yard.
They said that the decision was based off of data from a GIS map and that I might get a different result with a survey. This seemed unlikely to me, but if my problem really was being caused by less than 2 inches of land, it might be worth trying. So I paid to get someone to survey the official distance between the Church Street House property and the property of the nearest short-term rental. They obviously got the same result.
But here’s the thing. Someone sued and a judge ruled to repeal the city’s short-term rental permit ordinance because it conflicts with a provision in state law. But then obviously the city decided to appeal the ruling. Ultimately I have no idea if Wilmington will be able to enforce their permit system or not.
So we have a couple options.
- We could just run a short-term rental without a permit and risk a “Notice of Violation (NOV) which could be subject to citation(s)”. I’m unclear on what they can currently enforce.
- We could run a medium-term rental, meaning we’d require a minimum of 30-day stays. This would be much easier to manage and would still allow us to stay there when no-one else is, but I’m not sure how popular it would be since it’s a much less common option.
- We could rent the house out as a long-term, furnished rental. Again, much easier to manage but not sure how popular it would be and we would no longer have access for our personal use.
- We could sell the furniture we’ve already gotten and just rent it out long-term. And have no access for our personal use.
- We could sell the furniture we’ve already gotten and sell the house.
I’m leaning towards trying #2, but no matter what happens, we’ll make good use of the house and enjoy our time in Wilmington while we finish fixing it up.