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Policy: Economy

Short-term home rentals get Biloxi's attention

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News,Business,Taxes,Mississippi,Economy,Housing

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Biloxi officials say 160 property owners are advertising on the Internet to rent their homes and condos for a few days to a few weeks.

Jerry Creel, community development director, tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1BBc79E) that most aren't licensed or aren't paying taxes to the city or state.

Biloxi's ordnance allows short-term rentals only in areas zoned for business, multi-family, downtown and waterfront. The property must have adequate parking, and Creel said, "It has to protect the neighborhood property values."

Creel said only one home is licensed for short-term rentals of fewer than 30 days in Biloxi. He said another application was rejected because it was in a residential neighborhood.

Harrison County has extended-stay hotels, condos, villas and cottages that comply with laws and pay the 12 percent lodging tax required whether they rent one room or 1,000, said Linda Hornsby, director of the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association.

A portion of that tax goes to repay the bond on the expansion of the Coast Convention Center. The tax has been enough to pay only the interest on the bond, she said, and the 30-year bond is now 40 years.

Creel said his office responds to complaints from neighbors who object to people moving in and out of their neighborhoods every few days. Officials are working on seven complaints now and he said the cases are taken to community court and face penalties of up to $1,000 a day.

City attorney Michael Collins said renting a home also makes property owners ineligible for the state's homestead tax exemption.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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