Tuscaloosa city officials are cracking down on short-term rentals of homes across the city.
The practice spikes around University of Alabama home football games, officials said. Now, they're preparing to mail out certified letters to those found advertising their homes on the Internet via sites like AirBnb. "The current use of your residence for short-term rentals violates zoning, building, fire, and business license code regulations," say the letters. "In addition, short-term rentals are subject to state and local lodging taxes and may violate Alabama Department of Revenue rules regarding the use of homestead exemptions."
As of Friday, there were 147 Tuscaloosa-area properties listed on AirBnB.com, ranging from single bedrooms to entire homes. Not all of these listings would be illegal -- some are at hotels and other places where fee-based lodging is permitted -- but city officials have said that about 30 properties in single-family residential districts have been confirmed as advertised for short-term rentals.
"Please immediately cease and desist any illegal use of this property pertaining to transient rental," states the letter. "If this property is found to be in violation, you as property owner will be issued a citation and summons to municipal court for a misdemeanor violation of the code of Tuscaloosa." Those found guilty can be fined up to $500 per day for each violation or jailed for up to six months.