A house on Brookhaven’s Brooklawn Road rented through the online service Airbnb is drawing city code enforcement attention.
Kyle Howell, a resident of the street, recently voiced complaints to the City Council about short-term rentals in the city and specifically about a house he says was being used as a full-time commercial rental property. Cars are now constantly driving on the street to visit and look at the house, endangering children who live on the street, he said, and the constant activity is disturbing an otherwise tranquil neighborhood.
Councilmember Joe Gebbia is the father of Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia Jr. Gebbia was not at the Sept. 26 meeting when Howell raised his concerns and his relationship with Airbnb was not discussed.
Currently, Brookhaven code enforcement officials are talking with the owner of the house at 1302 Brooklawn Road, Judd Vollbrecht, according to Code Enforcement Manager Jeff Barron.
“It appears we are making progress toward a permanent resolution without the need of a court summons, though that could change if the property ultimately fails to comply,” Barron said.
Houses used as short-term rentals on a primary or consistent basis are considered a commercial application and therefore not allowed in a residential zoning, he said.
Vollbrecht owns the 1302 Brooklawn Road house, according to DeKalb property tax records. He is also listed as the contact person for the Opis Realty LLC website, which states that the company owns 45 houses in metro Atlanta that are available to rent.
When asked about the 1302 Brooklawn Road house and complaints against it, Vollbrecht said, “I don’t rent it out. Nice try,” before hanging up.
The house at 1302 Brooklawn Road was listed on Airbnb’s website Nov. 7 as a 5-bedroom house that can hold 12 guests. Rent is $375 a night. The description of the house on Airbnb’s website also includes a note that there is a finished basement that has been set up as a studio apartment with a private entrance and that the owner will sometimes stay there when renting the main house.
“This is not a local resident trying to make some money on the side,” Howell said in an email.
“Fundamentally, this is not a problem with Airbnb,” he said. “It is a problem with a home zoned for permanent residence being converted into a full-time inn.”
“It also lacks any sort of full-time presence for neighbors to know, trust, and rely upon — something any inn or hotel would have,” he said. “As a result, the natural process of coming to an understanding with your neighbors is completely broken.”
The Brooklawn community is in District 1, represented by Councilmember Linley Jones. Howell praised Jones’ efforts as well as the city’s efforts to try to come up with a solution. He has also suggested the city address the issue of short-term rentals through an ordinance that enforces a permanent resident live in the home.
Short-term rentals have been controversial, especially in big cities like Atlanta, where they can act as competition with hotels while avoiding the same taxes and regulations. Misbehaving guests and absentee owners are another widespread concern, as with a Buckhead mansion that last year attracted a “mansion party” concert. Atlanta officials issued a shutdown order for the Buckhead mansion on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, but it continues to operate.
In Sandy Springs, city officials are legalizing, regulating and taxing short-term rentals such as Airbnb as part of a new zoning code approved this summer.