by Adam Manno
Before passing the STR law in April, Council members discussed introducing a set of exemptions for those who weren't covered by the city's relatively strict law by May. One commonly-cited example includes the case of a vacant, inherited James Island property that its owners rent, using the revenue to finance upgrades.
Lindsey urged council to hold off on re-working the ordinance until more data is gathered.
"We’re just really beginning the process, but it’s working," Lindsey told the Council members. "With that said, what we’d like to ask of you, is giving staff more time to continue to roll the process out."
A city spokesperson previously told City Paper that the city has "no intention of using the information gathered for any other purposes other than STR enforcement," but Livability Director Dan Riccio gave more specifics on how the city is using the monitoring service at last night's meeting.
Riccio told Council members that the city is sharing information with Charleston County regarding properties that might be avoiding their property taxes. Under the new ordinance, the property owner must live in the unit that he or she wants to list for short-term rental. Those properties are taxed at a rate of four percent of fair market value per year, while non-owner occupied properties are usually taxed at six percent.
"We have a lot of people with six percent properties that aren’t living there, that are rated as four percent," he said. "We’re identifying those individuals and sending that information to the County as well."
Charleston County also uses STR Helper to monitor listings within its jurisdiction, which means both the city and the county have access to the same type of information regardless of sharing agreements.
"Since the 'primary residence' requirement was introduced by the new STR ordinance, keeping track of property tax statuses is part of the city’s STR enforcement process," said city spokesperson Chloe Field. "When we come across a property through our STR enforcement measures that is registered at the wrong property tax status, it’s standard for us to share that information with the county, who enforces those matters."