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Why residents from a Hilton Head gated community want to ban short-term rentals

Oceanfront mansions, yachts — even a treehouse. Here’s what’s for rent on Hilton Head

Looking for a room on Hilton Head? The island's short-term rentals include oceanfront mansions, homes in exclusive gated communities, overnight stays on a yacht — even a few treehouses. Here's what we found on Airbnb and VRBO.
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Looking for a room on Hilton Head? The island's short-term rentals include oceanfront mansions, homes in exclusive gated communities, overnight stays on a yacht — even a few treehouses. Here's what we found on Airbnb and VRBO.

Some Hilton Head Plantation residents want to ban short-term rental units from their community, according to a Facebook group created Friday.

Residents declined to comment on the issue, but the closed, 70-member Facebook group’s description says residents “discovered daily and weekly rentals” on Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner and want to “control” the situation and “stop the daily/weekly rentals.”

To do that, the group wants to amend the community’s covenants, according to the page.

“... We need to address this problem now as these rentals will only increase and at some point there may be too many to stop it,” the page reads.

Common concerns with short-term rental units in a residential community include safety issues, unhappy neighbors and a decrease in available affordable housing for long-term residents, according to a website affiliated with the National Association of Realtors.

Peter Kristian, general manager of Hilton Head Plantation, said Tuesday they’ve found less than a dozen short-term rental units listed on Airbnb and VRBO — two companies that allow people to lease or rent space.

The Facebook group claims, however, there are about 100 such rentals.

A search of Airbnb rentals between Sunday and Saturday for every week through the end of the year shows up to five rentals available in Hilton Head Plantation. VRBO shows up to four. However, if rental units already are booked during the timeframe selected, they will not show up.

Hilton Head Plantation has more than 4,000 homes and about 10,000 residents, according to its website.

To compare, Sea Pines has around 6,000 property owners, is home to a resort, and Airbnb and VRBO show dozens of rentals available in a given week through the end of the year.

Crystal Davis, a spokesperson for Airbnb, said there are 830 Airbnb hosts on Hilton Head Island, but that number cannot be broken down by community. VRBO did not immediately return a request for comment.

Kristian said Hilton Head Plantation’s covenants don’t ban short-term rentals, but the community restricts these renters’ access to all amenities. In order to access the community’s amenities, one must have at least a nine-month lease, Kristian said.

“Our main focus is on property owners and tenants with leases of nine months or more,” Kristian said. “We do not cater to folks who rent their home on a short-term basis, or to tenants who come on a short-term basis. That is not our focus and we want to make it as difficult as possible for that to happen.”

Hilton Head Plantation is a residential community, Kristian said. They want to keep it that way.

Kristian said the recent push to get rid of short-term rentals began on social media and nothing specific happened to stir it up.

For a covenant amendment to pass, 67 percent of all property owners must approve it, Kristian said, which is “a very high hurdle.”

Kristian said he has responded to all concerns about short-term rentals brought to him by residents and will continue to do so.

He also said the community reports all rental units to the town and county so owners pay the appropriate taxes.

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