Hamilton sets new rules for short-term rentals with Spooky Nook in mind

When long-term renters moved out of apartments in The Benninghofen House in Hamilton’s Dayton Lane neighborhood, owners Michael and Bekki Rennick thought they might get into the short-term rental game.

Two apartments in the 1896-built home have separate entrances and their own amenities, so the couple began advertising them on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb about three years ago.

“What shocked us,” he said, “is that it was booming from the get-go.”

With more expected visitors to Hamilton, especially with the anticipated opening of the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports and convention center complex next year, officials are working to get a better understanding of the short-term rental industry in their city.

The city council adopted an ordinance that establishes new rules for short-term rentals in Hamilton last week. They include requiring licenses for those offering these rentals, especially to ensure the city has contact information for the property owner in case of issues.

Officials said they want to encourage this industry in the city, especially if it brings visitors from out of town who support business and tourism, but they also want to know who is doing it and how to resolve any possible issues.

“It’s not looking to restrict them in any way,” said Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s director of planning. “We see short-term rentals as very positive for our community in terms of investment.”

However, they want to know what’s happening in the city, she said.

“It’s something on the books that says, ‘We recognize these exist, we would like emergency contact information and knowing what is happening at this property,’” she said.

For many, that activity includes a possibly lucrative side business. Michael Rennick, for instance, is a software engineer who works from the home he and his wife bought in 2015. The Benninghofen House in the 800 block of Dayton Street draws people coming to Hamilton to visit friends or relatives, parents visiting students at Miami University who want to stay outside of Oxford and others looking for things to do in Hamilton, such as the Butler County Donut Trail or a show at RiversEdge amphitheater.

Now those renters like the Rennicks will abide by the new rules in Hamilton. They include limiting the number of unrelated people staying in one rental to four, limiting the number of parties renting a space at a time to one and requiring a renters’ license that will cost $50 for those who don’t live at the property.

Some rent these spaces primarily to throw large parties or otherwise do things they wouldn’t want in their own homes, but Michael Rennick said their experience has been positive — and busy.

“We assume we’ll be booked 100% of the time when Spooky Nook opens up,” he said. “I don’t know if we have enough space at the moment to house everybody, so this is a smart idea by the city.”

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