Short-term rentals has become its own little industry on Hilton Head Island.

It’s essentially a subset of the greater tourism industry and provides significant direct and indirect economic benefits to the town and the island’s economy. While we appreciate the benefits, we recognize there are challenges with the short-term rentals industry, which has changed significantly over the last few years.

Here, the number of short-term rentals has increased dramatically, prompting us to explore issues such as parking, noise and business licenses for these property owners.

And, while most short-term rentals are well-managed, we need to ensure there are consistent performance standards to guide individuals in the business of using their property for visitor accommodations.

We also want visitors to be good neighbors. We hope individuals renting these properties will respect the community and our local laws so there is minimal disruption to the lives of residents who live here permanently.

Town staff has been working diligently on a short-term rental initiative in response to concerns, which have been grouped into two areas.

One area focuses on property management issues such as standards for parking, noise control, and trash storage and removal. The second area focuses on issues about the effects of mini hotels (large homes built on relatively modest lots) on neighborhoods, the effects of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, whether there are too many short-term rentals, the effects of short-term rentals on housing availability, the effects of short-term rentals on infrastructure, and the environmental impacts of short-term rentals.

Town staff has prepared a draft ordinance that will be brought to Town Council’s Public Planning Committee for review soon. This proposed ordinance will address property management concerns, requirements for owners of short-term rentals, enforcement and education. 

If the committee supports this ordinance, it will be brought to Town Council for consideration. How the industry is impacting residents and the island will require further analysis. Once we understand this more fully, we can determine what actions, if any, are appropriate.

If you have questions or comments about our short-term rentals initiative, you may submit them online at hiltonheadislandsc.gov/short-termrentals. We also encourage you to sign up to receive updates so you can stay abreast of solutions, meetings and feedback on this issue.

John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov