It’s go time in the Georgia Assembly

by Timothy Inklebarger

It’s going to be a big year in the Georgia General Assembly, and Georgia Association of Realtors is gearing up to push priority legislation for its members.

Jeff Ledford, GAR’s chief advocacy officer, said his office has about 100 bills they’re looking at for the year and about 12 they’re actively working on.

He tells Atlanta Agent that on the top of the list is a set of bills aimed at regulating zoning requirements for local jurisdictions. House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 have been in the works for over a year now and would limit certain zoning requirements in municipalities across the state. He says many of the local zoning requirements focus largely on aesthetics of housing projects, making it more expensive to build.

Some local jurisdictions require structures to made of a certain type of brick or mandate that aesthetic balconies be installed, for example.

“It’s adding to the cost of construction but not necessarily adding to the marketability or the desire or the value of the property that comes from that,” Ledford said.

Those requirements can easily tack on $10,000-$20,000 to the cost, Ledford said. That’s causing problems for construction of workforce housing, he added.
“You’re going to keep people in the rental market longer and cause the price of rents to rise when they don’t need to,” he said.

GAR also will be focusing on homeowners’ rights concerning short-term rentals. Ledford said there are a handful of bills up for consideration this year, but GAR’s focus is on those restricting short-term rentals.

He said problems associated with short-term rentals can be addressed by existing ordinances without limiting the rights of homeowners. “If there’s a house where there is noise and disruptions, that’s typically brought up as a reason why short-term rentals should be banned,” he said. “The existing ordinance should be enforced. If there’s a party at 3 a.m., that’s the problem and that should be addressed.”

He noted that short-term rentals constitute more than just people on vacation renting an Airbnb unit. They are frequently used by those visiting loved ones in the hospital or stationed at military facilities. Ledford also noted the booming film industry in and around Atlanta and the need to rent homes for short periods of time while on location.

“Our purpose is to look at private property rights and consistency across the state,” he said. “We’ve seen several potential bills that have addressed the issue by creating a structural format or preempting restrictions. Any number of those are things we would look at as items we would support.”