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Exploring Short-Term Rental Regulations In Iredell County, NC

Nicole Leininger January 31, 2024

Short-term rentals cover the temporary leasing of residential spaces, such as homes or apartments for vacation rentals, typically for periods lasting fewer than 30 days. The emergence of online, short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and similar services has contributed to the growing popularity of this practice.
In Iredell County, NC, a short-term rental specifically is a “primary or accessory dwelling unit rented for personal use, vacation rental, leisure, or recreation purposes, with durations of 90 days or less.” This includes both a complete house rental and a partial house with a short-term rental license. This is definitely an area that your professional North Carolina real estate agent can guide you with.
If you’re new to short-term rentals, short-term rental regulations can seem like information overload. As we explore the short-term rental regulations in Iredell County, NC we will bring light to the current landscape and the world of opportunities waiting for you. Don’t worry you’re in good hands here.

Importance of Regulations

Iredell County’s short-term rental regulations have a dual impact. What does this mean? While providing financial benefits and boosting tourism, a short-term rental also brings challenges like community disruption and safety concerns. Short-term rental regulations strike a balance by addressing issues such as noise, parking, and safety. They safeguard neighborhood character by setting limits on occupancy and party rentals.
Also, short-term rental regulations ensure compliance with safety protocols, building codes, and taxation, therefore promoting financial accountability. Moreover, they regulate the excessive growth of short-term rentals, preserving housing affordability and allowing local communities to tailor rules to their specific needs.

Historical Perspective

The rise of online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO has transformed short-term rentals in Iredell County. Previously limited to occasional short-term vacation rentals, these platforms in the late 2000s and early 2010s fueled a significant increase in short-term rentals, offering accessibility and profitability.
While generating economic benefits like tourism revenue, the uptick in short-term rentals has raised concerns about noise, parking, and party rentals. These concerns can impact neighborhood peace and character.

Key Milestones in Regulation Development

Here are a few key milestones that you should note:
  • 2019: Recognizing the growing number of short-term rentals and potential issues, Iredell County initiated discussions about developing regulations.
  • 2020: The County drafted initial regulations, but their implementation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • October 2023: The Iredell County Board of Commissioners adopted a zoning text amendment outlining various regulations for short-term rentals, including permit requirements, occupancy limits, and parking rules. These regulations were set to take effect on January 1, 2024.
  • December 2023: A lawsuit was filed against Iredell County challenging the new short-term rental regulations on grounds of exceeding the County’s legal authority.
  • January 2024: Due to the ongoing legal challenge, enforcement of the short-term rental regulations was temporarily suspended by court order.

Current Landscape

As of January 8, 2024, the fate of short-term rental regulations in Iredell County remains uncertain, pending the outcome of the legal case that questions the county’s legal authority. This highlights the ongoing debate and legal complexity surrounding short-term rental regulations in various jurisdictions. Public sentiment is divided, with some supporting regulations for community safeguards, while others fight them due to property rights and economic concerns.
In the middle of the changing national regulations, Iredell County’s situation highlights the dynamic nature of short-term rental regulations.

Existing Short-Term Rental Policies

As of January 8, 2024, Iredell County’s short-term rental policies are uncertain due to the ongoing legal case. However, the October 17, 2023 zoning text amendment introduced regulations, including permit requirements, occupancy limits, parking mandates, and noise control. While existing regulations, like local noise ordinances and zoning rules, still apply to short-term rental licenses, the enforcement is currently paused.

Regulatory Authorities in Iredell County

Several entities have roles and responsibilities regarding short-term rental regulations in Iredell County. They are:
  • Iredell County Board of Commissioners: The Board adopted the new short-term rental regulations and has the authority to modify or repeal them.
  • Iredell County Planning & Development Department: This department is responsible for issuing short-term rental permits and enforcing regulations.
  • Iredell County Sheriff’s Office: The Sheriff’s Office may be involved in responding to noise complaints or other disturbances related to short-term rentals.
  • North Carolina General Assembly: The state legislature could enact laws that affect short-term rental regulations in Iredell County.
  • North Carolina courts: The ongoing legal challenge will ultimately determine the validity and enforceability of the new short-term rental regulations.
Even though the fate of short-term rental regulations is uncertain, nothing is stopping you from coming out and taking a look around. Iredell County is ideal for anyone looking to establish a vacation rental, bed & breakfast, a host’s primary residence here, or even a permanent residence. Let Nicole Leininger show you around! We can introduce you to the hidden gems and local events that make Iredell County a great investment.

Legal Framework

While short-term rentals are mostly regulated at the state and local levels, there are some federal laws and regulations that indirectly affect this sector.

Federal Laws Impacting Short-Term Rental

At the moment, there are no specific federal laws directly regulating short-term rentals. But, several federal laws and regulations can indirectly influence the running of short-term rentals in Iredell County:
  • Fair Housing Act: The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, familial status, or disability. While not directly aimed at short-term rentals, it could come into play if a property owner refused to rent to potential guests based on protected characteristics.
  • Internal Revenue Code: Short-term rental income is considered taxable income by the IRS. Property owners renting out their units must report this income on their tax returns.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): If a property owner runs a short-term rental and acts as a place of public accommodation, they must comply with ADA regulations regarding accessibility.
  • Communication Decency Act (CDA): The CDA provides online platforms, including those helping short-term rentals, with certain protections from liability for content posted by users. However, platforms are expected to respond to illegal activities and take appropriate actions.
  • Consumer Protection Laws: Federal consumer protection laws may come into play if there are disputes or fraudulent activities related to short-term rentals. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could intervene in cases of deceptive practices or unfair business activities.

State Regulations and Their Implications

North Carolina doesn’t have a statewide law specifically regulating short-term rentals. However, Iredell County and other municipalities within the state have the authority to enact their regulations. Such as:
  • Zoning Laws: Existing zoning laws in Iredell County may already regulate land use and potentially apply to short-term rentals through minimum lot size requirements, setbacks, or restrictions on commercial activity in residential areas.
  • Building Codes: All short-term rentals in Iredell County must comply with state and local building codes to ensure safety and habitability.
  • Hotel and Motel Taxes: While short-term rentals generally are not subject to the same taxes as hotels and motels, some municipalities in North Carolina have enacted specific occupancy taxes applicable to short-term rentals.
Given the evolving legal landscape and new rules for short-term rentals in Iredell County, staying up-to-date about changes is a must. Even if kept, these regulations may not fully address all concerns, requiring future state or local legislation.

Understanding Zoning Laws

Navigating zoning laws and how they tie in with short-term rentals can be complex, so let’s break it down the best we can for Iredell County.

Zoning Districts Relevant to Short-Term Rentals

Iredell County uses various zoning districts to define permitted land uses within its jurisdiction. Each district has its own set of rules and regulations, and understanding which district your property falls under will determine if short-term rentals are allowed. In residential districts (e.g., R-12, R-20), short-term rentals are generally not allowed without special permits.
Commercial districts (e.g., B-1, B-2) may permit a short-term rental under specific conditions or permits. In mixed-use districts, short-term rental regulations depend on the district’s purpose and still vary based on the unique characteristics and goals of each zone.

Zoning Compliance Requirements

Even if your property is located in a district that allows short-term rentals, you’ll need to comply with specific zoning requirements before operating one. These may include:
  • Obtaining a Zoning Permit: The Iredell County Planning & Development Department issues permits for short-term rentals. The Iredell County Planning & Development website outlines the application process and required documents.
  • Meeting Occupancy Limits: Regulations on maximum occupancy per bedroom and total guests may apply.
  • Parking Requirements: You’ll likely need to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces for guests.
  • Noise and Nuisance Restrictions: Local ordinances may set limits on noise levels and party restrictions for short-term rentals.
  • Building Codes: All short-term rentals must adhere to safety and habitability standards as outlined in building codes.
Anyone considering short-term rentals in Iredell County should consult the Planning & Development Department to check eligibility for a short-term rental permit and understand specific requirements.

Registration Process

Mandatory registration for short-term rental owners is a common regulatory requirement implemented by many local jurisdictions. This process is designed to provide local authorities with essential information about short-term rental properties and their owners. The registration process often includes the following elements:
  • Application Submission: Short-term rental owners are typically required to apply for registration with the relevant local authority. The application may be available online or through a designated office.
  • Property Information: Owners will need to provide detailed information about the short-term rental property, including its address, type, number of bedrooms, and any amenities offered.
  • Ownership Details: The registration process typically requires information about the property owner, including their name, contact information, and, in some cases, proof of ownership.
  • Primary Residence Declaration: Some jurisdictions may require owners to declare whether the short-term rental property is their primary residence. This declaration helps address concerns related to absentee landlords.
  • Emergency Contact Information: Owners may need to provide emergency contact information or that of a designated property manager who can be reached in case of issues related to the short-term rental.
  • Tax Identification Number: In jurisdictions where occupancy taxes apply, owners may need to provide their tax identification number for proper tax collection and reporting.
  • Acknowledgment of Regulations: Owners may be required to acknowledge that they know and agree to comply with local regulations governing short-term rentals.
  • Application Fee: Some jurisdictions impose a registration fee to cover administrative costs associated with processing applications and overseeing the short-term rental market.

Documentation and Verification Procedures

The documentation and verification procedures for short-term rental owners aim to ensure that the information provided during the registration process is accurate and reliable. These procedures may include:
  • Proof of Ownership: Owners may need to submit documents proving their ownership of the short-term rental property. This could include property deeds, mortgage documents, or other relevant proof.
  • Identification Verification: Owners might be required to provide a government-issued identification document to verify their identity. This helps prevent fraudulent registrations.
  • Occupancy Declarations: Documentation confirming that the property owner complies with occupancy limits, especially in areas where such limits are regulated, may be required.
  • Insurance Verification: Some jurisdictions may require proof of liability insurance coverage for the short-term rental property. This ensures that hosts have adequate insurance to cover potential accidents or damages.
  • Background Checks: In certain cases, owners may undergo background checks to ensure compliance with local regulations. This could involve checking for any history of violations, legal issues, or other relevant factors.
  • Health and Safety Compliance: Owners may need to provide evidence that their short-term rental property meets health and safety standards, including compliance with building codes and safety regulations.
  • Renewal Processes: Some jurisdictions require periodic renewal of registrations, prompting owners to update information and confirm ongoing compliance with regulations.
Even as we wait with bated breath on the outcome of the fate of short-term rental regulations, Nicole Leininger is still available to walk you through the process. As a third-generation real estate broker, Nicole brings over 17 years of expertise to the Lake Norman office of Ivester Jackson Christies International.

Health and Safety Standards

Iredell County, like most municipalities, takes the health and safety of its residents and visitors seriously. This includes ensuring that buildings, both permanent and temporary, meet specific standards to protect occupants from hazards.

Building Codes and Inspections

Let’s break down the building codes and inspections for you.

Building Codes:

Starting with building codes, here’s what you need to know:
  • North Carolina State Building Code: This code sets minimum standards for the construction, alteration, and repair of buildings and structures. It covers aspects like structural integrity, plumbing, electrical systems, fire safety, and accessibility.
  • Iredell County Amendments: The county can adopt additional amendments or stricter requirements to the state code based on local needs and conditions.


Inspections also play a huge role. These include:
  • Building Permits and Inspections: Before any construction or major renovations on a property, including short-term rentals, a building permit must be obtained. The Iredell County Building Inspections Division conducts inspections to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards.
  • Zoning Inspections: Zoning inspectors verify that the property’s use and occupancy align with the designated zoning district.
  • Fire Safety Inspections: The Iredell County Fire Marshal’s Office conducts fire safety inspections to ensure proper smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits are in place.
  • Health and Sanitation Inspections: The Iredell County Environmental Health Division inspects food service establishments and public swimming pools for health and sanitation compliance.

Safety Measures for Short-Term Rental Properties

Ensuring safety in short-term rental properties of Iredell County is a must. For fire safety, short-term rentals must have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, clear escape plans, and carbon monoxide detectors. Emergency lighting is mandatory. General safety includes a stocked first-aid kit, floor mats, well-maintained electrical outlets and appliances, proper gas appliance installation, and adherence to pool safety regulations.
Even vacation rentals must provide clear instructions to guests and perform regular safety equipment maintenance for a secure guest experience.

Noise and Nuisance Regulations

Noise and nuisance issues can be a major concern for both residents and short-term rental owners in Iredell County. Maintaining a peaceful environment ensures everyone’s well-being and these regulations are in place to address concerns.

Noise Control Policies

Iredell County has established noise control policies to regulate noise levels and prevent disturbances. These policies cover both residential and commercial areas, with specific regulations for different times of day:
  • Daytime Hours (7:00 AM – 10:00 PM): Maximum noise levels are generally set at 65 decibels (dB) within 50 feet of a dwelling unit.
  • Nighttime Hours (10:00 PM – 7:00 AM): Maximum noise levels are lowered to 55 dB.
  • Prohibited Activities: Certain activities, such as loud music, amplified sound, or construction work, are prohibited during specific hours or in certain areas.
  • Noise Restrictions: Short-term rentals must comply with the general noise control policies mentioned above.
  • Outdoor Noise: Noise from outdoor gatherings or activities on short-term rental property is prohibited after 10:00 PM.
  • Party Rentals: Short-term rentals cannot be used for parties or events that generate excessive noise.

Addressing Nuisance Complaints

Addressing noise issues from a neighboring short-term rental should start with direct communication with the property owner before filing a complaint with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office if necessary. Despite the current legal challenge affecting specific short-term rental noise restrictions, general noise control policies apply to all properties.

Taxation for Short-Term Rentals

Taxation of short-term rentals in Iredell County involves an interplay between local regulations and state requirements.

Local Taxes Applicable

Let’s unravel the layers so you can understand your responsibilities as short-term rental hosts or operators:

Iredell County Short-Term Rental Lease Fee

As of June 30, 2023, Iredell County has instituted a Short-Term Rental Lease Fee applicable to all rental periods lasting less than 90 days for dwellings within the county’s zoning jurisdiction. The fee is calculated at a rate of 3% of the gross rental income collected from guests. Owners are required to make monthly payments and submit reports on or before the 15th of the subsequent month, establishing a clear schedule for compliance with this new fee structure.

Iredell County Sales Tax

In Iredell County, a sales tax applies to all taxable goods and services, encompassing items purchased by guests of your short-term rental rental business. The existing sales tax rate in the county stands at 7.25%. As the short-term rental host, it is your responsibility to collect and remit the sales tax accrued from guests on any taxable items, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the established tax rate for proper financial compliance.

Local Occupancy Tax

As of now, Iredell County does not enforce an occupancy tax on short-term rentals. Nevertheless, certain municipalities within the county have implemented occupancy taxes. To ascertain whether an occupancy tax applies to your short-term rental and to determine the specific rate, it is advisable to check with the municipality where your short-term rental is located, as these regulations can vary across different areas within the county.

Reporting and Compliance Responsibilities

Make sure that you understand and fulfill your tax obligations to operate a legal and successful short-term rental in Iredell County. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance to navigate the specifics of local regulations and reporting requirements. In the meantime let’s see how best we can help.

Short-Term Rental Lease Fee

Compliance with Iredell County’s Short-Term Rental Lease Fee requires monthly return submission and payment to the Planning & Development Department. You may access the forms and instructions on the official county website for proper adherence to fee regulations and submission procedures.

Iredell County Sales Tax

For compliance with Iredell County’s sales tax regulations, short-term rental property owners must register with the North Carolina Department of Revenue and obtain a sales tax permit. Owners are responsible for filing regular sales tax returns and remitting collected taxes, following specific requirements and deadlines provided by the Department of Revenue for accurate and timely tax obligation fulfillment.

Local Occupancy Tax

If your short-term rental falls within a municipality with its occupancy tax, you will need to register with the local tax authority and comply with their specific reporting and remittance requirements.
For guidance on short-term rental taxes, remember that you can consult a tax professional for personalized advice. Try to keep detailed records of rental income, guest purchases, and tax payments. Be aware of penalties for late filing or non-payment, stressing the importance of meeting deadlines. Please ensure that you stay informed about changes in local tax regulations for ongoing compliance with evolving requirements in the dynamic short-term rental landscape.

Environmental Impact

As short-term rentals gain popularity in Iredell County, their environmental impact also comes under scrutiny. But it’s not all gloomy! By embracing sustainability practices, short-term rental owners can minimize their footprint and offer eco-friendly experiences for guests.

Sustainability Guidelines for Short-Term Rentals

While official county-wide guidelines for sustainable short-term rentals are not yet present, several existing regulations and initiatives support eco-friendly practices:
  • Water Conservation: Iredell County has water conservation regulations in place, encouraging measures like low-flow faucets and fixtures.
  • Energy Efficiency: North Carolina offers rebates and incentives for energy-efficient appliances and building upgrades, applicable to short-term rentals.
  • Waste Management: Iredell County promotes recycling and waste reduction initiatives, which short-term rentals can adopt.

Eco-friendly Practices

Every step towards sustainability counts! By incorporating eco-friendly practices and encouraging responsible guest behavior, Iredell County’s short-term rentals can contribute to a greener future and a more mindful travel experience. Promoting eco-friendly practices in Iredell County’s short-term rentals can come in the form of installing low-flow fixtures, encouraging water conservation, and using energy-efficient appliances.
The short-term rental industry can also reduce waste through reusable amenities, composting, and proper recycling. It can also source locally for eco-friendly supplies while supporting green transportation options and providing information on eco-friendly transit. Short-term rental hosts can partner with environmental organizations or offer volunteer opportunities. These practices benefit the environment, cut utility costs, attract eco-conscious guests, and build a positive community reputation for short-term rental owners.

Enforcement Mechanisms

In Iredell County, with its growing short-term rental industry, it’s pertinent to ensure compliance with regulations through effective enforcement mechanisms.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Depending on the nature of the violation, different penalties can be imposed on short-term rental owners in Iredell County:
  • Short-Term Rental Lease Fee: Failure to file returns or remit the 3% fee could result in penalties and interest charges.
  • Zoning Violations: Operating a short-term rental without a permit or violating zoning regulations could lead to fines, cease-and-desist orders, and potential legal action.
  • Noise and Nuisance Complaints: Repeated noise or nuisance ordinance violations could result in fines, warnings, and even court summons.
  • Tax Evasion: Failure to report or pay sales tax or local occupancy tax can lead to hefty fines and additional penalties.

Role of Enforcement Agencies

Various agencies play a crucial role in enforcing short-term rental regulations in Iredell County:
  • Iredell County Planning & Development Department: This department is responsible for issuing short-term rental permits, monitoring compliance with the Short-Term Rental Lease Fee, and investigating zoning violations.
  • Iredell County Sheriff’s Office: Responding to noise and nuisance complaints is primarily handled by the Sheriff’s Office, who can issue citations and warnings.
  • Iredell County Fire Marshal’s Office: The Fire Marshal conducts fire safety inspections to ensure short-term rentals comply with fire code regulations.
  • North Carolina Department of Revenue: The North Carolina Department of Revenue is responsible for enforcing sales tax compliance and can pursue legal action against non-compliant short-term rental owners.
  • Local Municipalities: In certain municipalities with their occupancy taxes, their local tax authorities may have a role in enforcement procedures.
  • Citizen Complaints: Neighbors and concerned individuals can report violations to the relevant agencies, prompting investigations and potential enforcement actions.
  • Online Platforms: Some online platforms listing short-term rentals have implemented measures to vet listings and address violations reported by guests or hosts.
  • Legal System: In some cases, legal action may be taken against short-term rental owners for persistent violations or non-compliance with court orders.

Community Engagement

The debate surrounding short-term rentals in Iredell County highlights the importance of effective community engagement. Involving residents in policy development and ensuring their voices are heard can lead to better regulations that balance the needs of both the rental industry and the community.

Involving Residents in Policy Development

Engaging residents in short-term rental policy development involves hosting public forums, town hall meetings, and advisory committees with diverse representation. Online surveys and focus groups offer quantitative and qualitative insights, allowing residents to voice concerns and contribute to collaborative policy development.

Public Hearings and Feedback Mechanisms

Ensuring a transparent and inclusive approach to short-term rental policy development in Iredell County involves public hearings, transparent planning processes, and diverse feedback mechanisms. Communicating meeting details fosters trust, while convenient hearing times and locations enhance participation. It’s also beneficial to provide various feedback channels, such as written comments and online forms, to accommodate diverse preferences. Responding to public input, even when not fully accommodated, builds trust and demonstrates respect.

Economic Impact

Short-term rentals in Iredell County present a dynamic landscape with both undeniable economic benefits and potential challenges.

Short-Term Rentals and Local Economy

Short-term rentals have positively impacted the local economy by attracting more visitors and boosting tourism revenue through spending at local businesses. They contribute to job creation, employing services like hosting platforms, cleaning, and property management. short-term rentals can revitalize underutilized properties, increasing property tax revenue and fostering overall economic development. Additionally, property managers and owners have the opportunity to earn extra income, enhancing their financial security.

Balancing Economic Benefits with Regulation

Balancing the economic benefits of short-term rentals with effective regulation requires addressing challenges like housing affordability, neighborhood disruption, competition with local businesses, and safety concerns. Establishing clear zoning regulations, a permitting system, and regular inspections can minimize disruption and uphold safety standards.
In the same breath, fair taxes and fees ensure revenue and a level playing field. Open communication between policymakers, residents, the hotel industry, and the short-term rental industry leads to balanced solutions. Iredell County, through strategic regulation and collaboration, can harness the economic potential of short-term rentals while ensuring responsible and sustainable growth for the tourism sector and local community, especially through real estate agents.

Summary of Key Findings

Navigating short-term rental in Iredell County requires understanding the evolving regulations, embracing responsible practices, and engaging with the community for a sustainable and inclusive future. While Iredell County’s short-term rental landscape is marked by uncertainty in regulations due to a legal challenge, a notable trend is an increasing emphasis on sustainability in short-term rentals with a focus on eco-friendly practices.
A short-term rental in Iredell County is an investment we don’t want you to miss out on. Are you ready to take the next step?

Work With Nicole

Nicole prides herself on being prompt and efficient, keeping her customers informed during every step of the journey, and resolving problems quickly. Her customers often become her friends, and she treats everyone like family. Contact Nicole now!

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