Thomas Realty beach house

A Thomas Realty beach house in Windy Hill. Photo by Christian Boschult

North Myrtle Beach passed an amended ordinance Monday that bans the use or rental of all short-term rental properties through the month of April, not just rentals of 29 days or less.

"If you come in tomorrow, I’m gonna tell you I can’t rent to you," North Myrtle Beach councilman Hank Thomas said. "Effective tomorrow, if you’re staying 30 days or more, you can’t occupy the property."

The ordinance that goes into effect 7 a.m. Tuesday prohibits the use or rental of all short-term rental facilities through April 30, although anyone checked in before Tuesday can remain as long as they abide by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster's executive order mandating that visitors from COVID-19 hotspots self-quarantine for 14 days.

The ordinance includes hotels, motels, condo hotels, rental properties, inclusive of private management companies and HOAs, Airbnb, VRBO lodgings, public and private campgrounds and other overnight accommodations.

The meeting was closed to the public.

City spokesman Pat Dowling declined to say if the ordinance applied to apartment complexes renting out apartments for six months or a year, and declined to say if it applied to condo complexes that wanted to rent out for a year. 

"We’re going to let the ordinance speak for itself," Dowling said.

The ban does not apply to healthcare workers, government agencies, law enforcement, members of the military and other personnel critical to combating the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses caught violating the ordinance are considered to be committing an offense for each day of violation, and could have their business license revoked.

Thomas, who owns Thomas Realty, said he supports the move.

"I wish us all well and hope we can get this thing under control and get back into business by summer," he said.

A previous ordinance the city passed Friday banned short-term rentals, defined as 29 days or less, for the month of April. The revised ordinance removes the 29-day limitation and adds an additional penalty of business license revocation.

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