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What Every Investor Needs to Know About Short-Term Rental Laws in Tybee Island, GA

Tybee Island Short-Term Rental

Amidst lawsuits and existing short term rental ordinances for the small island community of Tybee Island, GA, the city council flexed again on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Thumbing their collective noses at the slews of lawsuits and appeals of local homeowners, the powers that be voted to not only keep the ordinances that had caused so much drama since 2021, but to double down.

What Are Investors Losing in the Tybee Island Ordinance:

Investors like me are saddened by this outcome. As an American and proud property owner, I despise the encroachment of government telling me what to do on my own property. Investors have put money into the island with the understanding that with regulations came the certainty that their rental income was secure. The flick of a pen has removed thousands if not millions of dollars in equity. I understand that neighbors desire a quiet solitude, but moving to a beach community is literally never the way to find that. If you want to control what happens on a property, buy it.

How Homes Zoned R-1 and R1-B and R-2 Will Change Tybee Island

Before I am labeled an alarmist, allow me to assure you that all is not lost on Tybee Island. The changes only affect homes zoned R-1, R-1-B, and R-2. Homes with certificates in place as of the ordinance are permitted to continue business as usual. Homes zoned commercial, such as condo units, are safe from losing their valuable certificates.

What Happens when the Title of a Property Changes Hands on Tybee Island Going Forward

Homeowners who had purchased property in the tiny beach community and paid a premium for a transferrable short-term rental certificate that came with it were suddenly met with a cold reality; they can continue to rent their investment home legally only until the property changes ownership. Upon the sale of the property, the short-term rental certificate would be removed, along with the premium value of their property.

As properties convey to new owners, the homes remaining on the rental market will make more and more money. However, that profit is fleeting. As a property manager on the island myself, I am saddened for the owners who can no longer pass their vacation rentals onto their children.

Another example of times that will affect rental properties on Tybee Island is when a couple divorces. Couples who divorce are now forced to remain owners in their short-term rental homes or lose their ability to continue to rent the property in short-term rental agreements.

These are good people who really care about their homes and guests. We are bringing wonderful families out to Tybee Island, spending money on local businesses. Local businesses surely enjoy the tourist revenue that short-term rentals bring to Tybee Island. What kind of a long-term impact will this ordinance have on the island’s tourist economy?

I’m not ok with what these ordinances have done to the people I represent on the island, yet I only have one vote.

What to Expect for Investing on Tybee Island Going Forward

Tybee Island Lighthouse aerial view

As an investor myself, I have made the best investments by thinking outside the box. As I morn for the loss of equity and opportunity on Tybee, I can’t help but think how I’d pivot. There is always a way around an obstacle. For investors holding homes on Tybee, my first question is if the property is owned by an LLC or corporation? Many investors place their investment homes into corporations like this in order to allay risk.

With the ordinance being based on the change of ownership in the property causing the property to lose its certificate, investors might be able to sell the shares of their LLC instead of the property itself, thereby keeping the certificate in place. Families could also move their homes into a trust and pass the home onto their families without changing ownership. If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s the power of capitalists to find another way to make a profit. Tybee will be different, but its sun kissed beaches will always call to travelers.

How Can Sid Was Here Help Protect Your Investments on Tybee Island?

At Sid Was Here, we are very proud of our work on Tybee Island. As regulations come and go, our commitment to our island community will remain steady. Follow Sid Was Here to stay up with the changing regulations in the Savannah area. We are proud to be a part of this amazing community and unlike these certificates, we aren’t going anywhere.

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