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Breaking News: Major Amendments to Buncombe County Zoning Laws Impacting Short-Term Rentals

In an unprecedented move, Buncombe County, home of Asheville, North Carolina, has proposed significant amendments to its zoning laws, particularly affecting short-term rentals (STRs).

These changes, set to reshape the real estate landscape, hold substantial implications for real estate agents and property owners in the area.

Key Highlights of the Proposed Zoning Law Amendments:

Restriction to Commercial Zones

If approved, STRs will be restricted primarily to areas zoned for commercial use. This includes zoning districts such as Neighborhood Service (NS), Community Service (CS), Employment (EMP), Public Service (PS), and Commercial Resort (CR). In Open Use Districts, grouped complexes of STRs may be allowed, but only with a Special Use Permit.

Grandfathering Current STRs

Properties currently operating as STRs outside commercial zones will be grandfathered in. However, this non-conforming use status is precarious. If the property is sold, it loses this status, significantly impacting its market value and utility as an STR.

Impact on Real Estate Market 

This situation has led to a surge in urgency among real estate agents working with clients selling STRs in Buncombe County. Many are advising that if the property is not sold before these ordinances take effect, it might be taken off the market to retain its non-conforming use status. Prospective buyers are under pressure to complete purchases before the law's enactment to maintain the property’s STR potential.

Amendments in Detail
  • A reduction in the maximum gross floor area permitted for STRs.

  • Clarification of STR definition, stating a minimum rental period of two days and a maximum of 30 days.

  • Establishment of Special Requirement (SR) standards for STRs in commercial areas, encompassing various operational aspects like parking, waste management, and fire safety.

  • Introduction of a zoning permit process for legal, non-conforming STRs to continue operation.

  • Mandatory rental activity for a minimum of two nights every 180 days to maintain non-conforming status.

  • Prohibition of STRs in Manufactured Home Parks and in developments receiving county incentives.

Implications for Real Estate Professionals

These amendments, if passed, will necessitate a strategic shift for real estate agents in Buncombe County. Emphasis will likely shift towards properties in commercial zones or those with grandfathered non-conforming status. Additionally, real estate education and training may need to adapt to these changes, focusing more on zoning laws and their implications for property sales and investments.

This development represents a significant pivot in local real estate dynamics, underscoring the evolving nature of property management and investment in the Asheville region. As the county grapples with the balance between growth and community interests, the real estate sector remains at the forefront of these transformative changes.

What do you think about these proposed changes? Sound off in the comments or discuss with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!


Buncombe County Planning and Development Long Range Planning Division. SHORT-TERM RENTAL TEXT AMENDMENTS MEMORANDUM. Published 1/12/24.

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Social production facilities are usually designed to perform certain social or production functions, and their status may be associated with certain legal norms or rules. If a property loses its STR status when sold, it may be due to a change in use of the land or property due to local laws or regulations.


I believe it's essential for everyone to explore additional details and educate yourself and others about Short-Term Rentals (STR). These rentals maintain order by allowing hosts to rate renters, imposing substantial fees for hosting parties, and giving hosts the option to limit reservations for renters with less than a 4-star rating. Personally, I favor Short-Term Rentals (STR) over Long-Term Rentals (LTR). Long-Term Rentals (LTR) are often associated with issues such as property defacement, including neglecting property maintenance, overcrowding streets or driveways with too many cars, and parties. Then you are dealing with a lengthy and complex process to address their behavior, or to facilitate their eviction in case of disruptive activities or parties.

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