By John Wayne – January 2024
2024 Brings Operational Requirements for Louisa County. What does this mean for those who rent their houses and those who live around them?
I requested information from Louisa County that I could use to create a practical guide for operating and managing issues under the STR ordinance passed in 2023. The ordinance passed with an effective date of January 1, 2024, and I expect there are those who rent their homes that may not have gotten word and/or have not yet taken steps to comply with the ordinance. I also wanted to understand, given the restrictions contained in the new ordinance, how citizens who experience violations of the ordinance are to handle those with the County. I want to thank Cindy King, Community Engagement Manager for Louisa County, who was very helpful in responding to my questions and in fact provided me with what I believe to be a succinct guide to how renters and neighbors can manage under the new ordinance. What follows is her response:
Short-term rentals (STRs) offer the area numerous tourism-related benefits, but as the number of these rentals have grown around Lake Anna, so has concern from neighboring property owners. Following a great deal of citizen input, the formation of a county-led stakeholder workgroup, and public hearings, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance this past October intended to minimally impact responsible STR owners while increasing visitor safety and guarding community interests.
While not all STRs in Louisa County are affected by this new ordinance, the majority of waterfront rentals and rentals in waterfront communities will be required to follow new regulations. This set of regulations, effective January 1, 2024, are as follows:
- Owner Contact Information: Must provide contact details of the owner/property manager to Louisa County and any subdivision governing body if present.
How to satisfy this requirement: Existing STR owners most likely have already completed registration through the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. For new owners or STR operators needing to register, they may complete the “Transient Occupancy Tax Contact Information Form” by January 1, 2024. STR owners will also need to provide contact information to any applicable HOAs/POAs. This registration allows for contact information to easily be retrieved, including in the event of an emergency.
- Local Code Information: Required to provide the current Louisa County Code chapters related to Noise (51) and Solid Waste (62) and definitions for Special Occasion Facilities and Gatherings in rental contracts.
How to satisfy this requirement: STR owners may link to this information on the county website from their rental agreements or include copies in their rental agreements executed on and after January 1, 2024. This requirement ensures the tenants have been given notice of how to handle noise and solid waste during their stay.
- Prohibition of Certain Uses: Owners must inform tenants that events, rentals, Special Occasion Facilities, and related uses are banned unless a valid CUP is obtained.
How to satisfy this requirement: This notification may be included in the rental agreement or in a confirmation message regarding the rental. These notifications apply to rentals on or after January 1, 2024. This requirement will help prevent unauthorized special occasion facilities.
- Health and Safety Compliance: Adherence to Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regulations and all applicable state building code and safety regulations is mandatory.
How to satisfy this requirement: To maintain safety for tenants and the community, short-term rental (STR) owners must check their permits with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and follow all stated requirements. All VDH permit regulations need to be met by January 1, 2024. Additionally, all buildings must meet the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) standards. The Community Development issues a Certificate of Occupancy for each property, and all properties must comply with these certificates by January 1, 2024.
- Conditional Use Permit Necessity: Owners failing to meet these requirements must obtain a CUP from the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to operate an STR.
How to satisfy this requirement: STR owners that cannot meet the above requirements by January 1, 2024 should contact the Community Development department about a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).
STR operators can find additional information on the county’s website, louisacounty.gov.
For residents concerned about neighboring STR properties that may not comply with these new requirements, the ordinance and standard county processes do provide reporting options. Any neighbor who feels one or more of these restrictions are not being addressed (building code violations, safe occupancy per VDH, event rentals, etc.), may report a potential code violation through the “Report an Issue” feature on louisacounty.gov or contact the Community Development department. The Report an Issue, Report a Potential Code Violation form will allow the submitting party to receive updates. This section of the website also offers a link to submit an issue anonymously, however as submissions through that option are anonymous, updates cannot be provided. The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office may be called for noise complaints.
LACA has put this information up on our Website under Programs/Land Use/STR so that the links provided by the County will be active, allowing you to go directly to the forms and additional information highlighted and referenced in the text. Please visit our website at https://lakeannavirginia.org to access this information.