The City of Laurel would like to remind short-term rental owners about the new rules affecting short-term rentals (STR) in the city.
As many of you know, this year has brought several new developments in how the city is addressing its thriving tourism economy. Most notably, this year saw the passage of Senate Bill 2155 which levies a 3% tax on all hotel, motel, and short-term rental bills. The measure was enacted when a majority of the city’s residents voted in its favor over the summer. Additionally, the city council passed Ordinance 1725-2022 to establish standards and procedures for the operation of short-term rental facilities within the city limits.
One of the provisions Ordinance 1725-2022 establishes is that those who wish to own and operate short-term rental facilities in the city must obtain both a privilege license and a special use permit. The privilege license allows individuals and companies to conduct business in the city while a special use permit allows the property to be used in a manner that deviates from generally accepted activities within a specific area or zone. Both are needed for short-term rental operation.
Many people in the community who were operating short-term rental facilities did apply for and receive their privilege licenses but have not completed the process to receive a special use permit. Those who do not have the special use permit, should begin the application process as soon as possible. The deadline to do so is December 31, 2022. After that time, the City of Laurel Inspections Department will begin enforcing the ordinance as it is written. Currently, those operating a STR without the proper licenses and permits can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined.
According to the ordinance, “for purposes of prosecution of violations of this chapter, each day that any violation occurs is deemed to constitute a separate violation. Those found guilty of such violation shall, upon conviction, be fined for each violation, not to exceed an amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the first offense within a calendar year; not to exceed an amount of two thousand dollars ($2,000) for the second offense within a calendar year; and not to exceed more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for other offenses within a calendar year, in addition to all court costs and related fees.”
Additionally, if someone advertises an available STR without having the proper licenses and permits in place, he or she may be barred from receiving the license and permit for up to one year.
In other words, if you have a short-term rental property, please make sure that you have your privilege license and special use permit by December 31, 2022.
Interested parties can apply by filling out an application in person in the Inspection Department located on the first floor of City Hall during regular business hours, OR by emailing Inspection@laurelms.com OR by mailing their application and supporting material to City of Laurel, ATTN Inspection Department PO Box 647 Laurel MS, 39441.
Applications are available at City Hall and online at :https://www.laurelms.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Short-Term-Rental-Application.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions and Information about the process can be found at: https://www.laurelms.com/departments/inspection/permit-applications/
In addition to ensuring that they have the proper permits and licenses, short-term rental operators should also make sure that they are collecting the 3% tourism tax due the city per Senate Bill 2155. This tax went into effect on September 1st and property owners will be responsible for remitting this tax to the Mississippi Department of Revenue for every transaction that has taken place since then.