VIDEO: Proposed Port Royal rental ordinance pared back after property-owner backlash

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 6, 2013 

Rental property owners and managers attended a public hearing Wednesday to oppose a rental property ordinance Port Royal Town Council is considering.


  • In other business, council:

  • received no comments during a public hearing about rezoning 132 and 134 Johnny Morrall Circle and a proposed ordinance that would allow residents to keep up to six hens. The issues will be voted on a second and final time Feb. 14.

  • discussed a potential management opportunity for the shrimp docks. Town manager Van Willis said he has been approached by someone interested in opening a processing plant in the area and investing in and managing the docks. He declined to name the interested party.

  • discussed the forthcoming proposal to adjust the growth boundary line between the city of Beaufort and the town.

  • discussed projects, including sewer and renovations to the police station, that must be done soon due to a deadline to spend money from the special tax district.

Following a backlash from owners and managers to a proposed rental property ordinance, Port Royal officials on Wednesday pared down the restrictions being considered to two main points.

The two restrictions -- that a property manager or owner be available to respond in person to problems and that rental units be registered with the town -- will be voted on for a second and final time at council's Feb. 14 meeting.

"The way this thing has been revised, the only thing we're asking for is good (contact) information," town manager Van Willis said during the public hearing Wednesday night.

That information is needed because the town currently has a "hodgepodge of bad information and that makes it difficult" to find owners if issues arise, Willis said.

Requirements cut from the ordinance include a point system that tracks reports of problems such as noise and parking violations, disorderly conduct and unsanitary conditions. A clause allowing the revocation of business licenses for a year if too many points accumulate has also been removed.

The ordinance also originally gave council the option to charge owners a registration fee, but that option was eliminated.

Willis said the changes were made following a meeting Monday with property managers.

"We're trying to work with y'all. We want everybody to be happy, and we want everybody to have property that they can rent and feel comfortable that their next-door neighbor (who's) renting is going to be nice," Councilwoman Mary Beth Heyward said.

The changes largely appeased the crowd that came to oppose the ordinance, but some, including Lamont Hopey, still wanted no ordinance at all.

"I think you're being very heavy-handed in what you're trying to do here, and I'd ask you to seriously consider taking that ordinance and putting it in the trash can," he said.

His wife, Delores, added "I understand what you're doing, but again, my big concern is we are being penalized because of a few."

Concerns about the original proposal ranged from owners being held liable for tenants' actions, regulations making property in Port Royal less enticing to potential buyers, and property owners' rights being infringed upon.

"I also don't want anybody to tell me how to write my lease, and I'm not going to let anyone tell me how to write my lease," said Judy Lohr.

Related content

  1. Proposed Port Royal rental ordinance concerns some property owners, Jan. 29, 2013
  2. Short-term rental law ready to be put on books, July 15, 2011

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