At its October 25 meeting, County of Santa Fe Commissioners adopted a new ordinance to regulate short-term rentals. Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® President Andrea Dobyns offered testimony opposing the final version, which will place a one-year moratorium on any properties purchased after the effective date of the ordinance, November 25, 2022.
The Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® opposed the ordinance as inherently unfair since it protects existing property owners’ right to rent short term while eliminating that right for new property owners. The regulation will permit existing property owners to construct and expand their short-term rental business, while new property owners cannot legally rent on a short-term basis. For the foreseeable future, the regulation will create a market advantage for existing property owners. Future controls dis-cussed by commissioners to limit the density or location of units and restrictions on the number of allowable total units would further exacerbate this market advantage over time.
The ordinance is also unclear regarding a number of important property acquisition issues. Property acquisitions can include existing contractual obligations, such as rental agreements. It remains unclear how acquired properties with existing short-term rental contracts convey under a moratorium. There is no definition of an “acquired property” in the ordinance, so it remains uncertain how a property exchange or an intra-family property transfer in the case of death or inheritance will be handled. It is also unclear if the moratorium will simply expire, or whether it will need to be acted upon by the governing body through further imposition or release.
The ordinance is particularly onerous for owner-occupied short-term rental properties since it establishes a new, unenforceable 275-day primary residency requirement — a residency requirement far more stringent than the Internal Revenue Service’s residency rules.
Current real estate market conditions are rapidly changing in response to rising mortgage rates and inflationary factors. The ordinance will negatively affect Santa Fe County property values and introduce more uncertainty into the home buying and selling process by making a valuable property right illegal.
Briefly, the ordinance will establish two “Short-Term Rental Tiers.” Tier 1 is an owner-occupied short-term rental, whether in the same house as the primary residence or an accessory dwelling on the same property. “Primary residence” is defined as one in which the owner resides for a cumulative minimum 275 days. The owner would apply for a business registration with a yearly fee of $35, with only one registration per owner. Tier 2 is a non-owner-occupied short-term rental with the owner applying for a business license, which has a fee of $375, with a renewal fee of $300. This fee is based upon the expected review, processing and issuance time of 3–4 hours and an inspection time of 2–4 hours (depending on location within the county).
Short-term rentals would be permitted within all zoning districts in which residential uses are allowed as a primary use under the Sustainable Land Development Code. Applicants for both a registration and business license will have until March 15, 2023, to come into compliance.
To learn more about the new County of Santa Fe short term rental ordinance and regulations, visit https://www.santafecountynm.gov/news_detail/board-of-county-commissioners-adopts-short-term-rental-ordinance.