Nov 17, 2022 - News

Hobbit houses and Atlanta's short-term rental debate

A photo of a small wooden structure that resembles the homes where hobbits live in the fantasy series

Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Lost amid the confusion over Atlanta's short-term rental ordinance has been an important question: Where do the city’s hobbit houses fit in?

Why it matters: The ordinance — currently on hold after pushback from Airbnb and Vrbo hosts — is fuzzy as it applies to nonprofits or landowners who want to rent out parts of their property for camping, glamping or another less traditional overnight option.

Backdrop: Hobbit houses — we prefer to call them hobbit homes — at the Wylde Center’s Hawk Hollow garden are cozy, creative spots for a night of no-frills camping.

Details: Stephanie van Parys, the Wylde Center’s executive director, said in a statement to Axios that the nonprofit took the hobbit houses off Airbnb "in accordance with the short term policy changes in the City of Atlanta."

  • If those policies change, she said, the center would consider reopening the hobbit house rentals. The quaint structures are still open for children to enjoy on a daily basis.

What they're saying: Michal Rosenoer of Hipcamp, a service that helps landowners rent out campsites or glamping experiences, says alternative overnight options like hobbit houses can help property owners like nonprofits earn extra revenue without affecting available housing stock.

  • "Local governments really need to get with the times and realize this is an opportunity that can be managed safely and appropriately."

Of note: Peter Bahouth, the owner of an uber-popular treehouse listed on Airbnb, says he registered the space in accordance with the short-term rental ordinance — initially aimed at cracking down on party houses and listings owned by private entities — and has experienced no issue.

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