Tuscaloosa Short-Term Rental Ordinance

 

Previous to May 2019, Tuscaloosa zoning regulations restricted Short-term rentals (STRs) to just a few areas in the city, downtown and by Lake Tuscaloosa. Yet, there were many STRs operating illegally outside of these areas: They did not have business licenses and had not passed health and safety inspections. 

On May 21, 2019, the Tuscaloosa City Council approved a new city ordinance that allows for the operation of short-term rentals city-wide. In the Tourist Overlay District in the downtown area, STRs are allowed by "right," meaning a property owner must only have a safety inspection and acquire a business license.

Outside of these areas, STRs may operate in any residential area as a special exception. This means that the home must be approved the Zoning Board of Adjustment at a public hearing at which citizens can express their support or opposition. The regulations set no limitations on  the number of occupants, no set limits on the number of nights, and no vehicle limitations. These are all determined at the public hearing. Neighborhood and homeowner associations do not have to be notified. The way the ordinance is written, residents' opposition has little consideration in whether an approval is granted. However, public comment may impact the restrictions imposed on the property. It is important for residents to voice their support or opposition. We believe that documenting residents' concerns is vital to improving regulations in the future.

Primary Considerations for a "special Exception"

  1. Property must be within the city limits of Tuscaloosa.

  2. A dwelling must be located on the site, able to be occupied.

  3. All building and fire codes must be met.

  4. No commercial events, such as concerts, weddings, or other large events are permitted.

  5. No on-site signage shall be permitted promoting or identifying the short-term rental.

  6. A short-term rental property shall not be occupied for a period of less than twenty-four (24) hours.

"Signs" by smenzel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

What has happened Since May 2019?

As of September 23, 2019 the Zoning Board of Adjustment has ruled on  46 cases and approved 44

  • 28 properties are owner occupied

  • All of the properties are limited to leasing no more than 30 nights/year

  • Most homes are only allowed to rent  to 6-8 adults (but this does not include children 18 and younger)

  • On all properties approved to date, the maximum number of vehicles permitted has been 4 or fewer and they must be parked off the street in a designated parking area, not the lawn

A summary of approved cases as of August 28, 2019​ can be found here.

How can I find out if a game day rental is operating legally?

Unfortunately, there is no centralized location to access information on licensed STRs.

  • Try to contact the homeowner directly and ask if they are licensed.

  • Tuscaloosa Neighbors Together has compiled a PARTIAL list based on cases that have been heard before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.  This list is updated monthly as new cases are heard and business licenses are granted. The list as of September 23, 2019 can be found here. Disclaimer: These are not official City Records.

  • Call the City's 311 help line (205-248-5311)

  • Call the City's Planning Dept. at 205-248-5100