MPCA Guidance on Short Term Rentals

MPCA Corner

The regional dialogue at the Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) March 29 Regional Workshop in Hagerstown highlighted the desire of citizen planners for networking and information sharing. When you can discuss shared concerns and approaches, your uncertainty begins to lift and your confidence raises. One particularly thorny issue noted by participants was short term rentals. 

Basement apartments, single rooms, granny flats, and even entire houses are readily available for rent through numerous apps on our mobile devices. They even have one for campsites now! There is no arguing that short term rentals are convenient and affordable for the traveler and a source of extra income for the homeowner. But how can Maryland’s communities guarantee access to the tax revenue ensured with more traditional commercial rental properties? How can zoning ordinances regulate the free-wheeling nature of the gig economy? Definitive answers to these questions are yet to be developed, but Talbot County is taking a proactive approach to short term rentals, and passed an ordinance addressing them in November of 2018

Talbot’s ordinance regulates short term rental licensing and renewal requirements, operations, tax payments, public notifications, minimum stays, and the development and authority of a Short Term Rental Review Board. Of particular note are the following ordinance requirements.

  1. Short term rental leases require a three-night minimum stay.
  2. Both new and renewal license applications require compliance with International Building Code (IRBC) safety requirements for emergency escape and rescue openings (windows in bedrooms), means of egress, and smoke alarms. 
  3. All new applications have two rounds of notification requirements to neighboring properties and are required to be approved by the Council-appointed review board, after a public hearing, before they can receive their licenses. Decisions can be appealed to the Board of Appeals.

The MPCA encourages you to learn more about Talbot’s approach in the link above, and to consider if something similar, or certain parts of it, are appropriate for your community. Talbot’s ordinance is still in its infancy, and the county will be monitoring implementation and considering any needed changes in the future. 

Has your community addressed short term rentals? The MPCA would love to hear about your success stories and lessons learned. The organization will review any submitted information and compile it into a resource guide for citizen planners throughout Maryland. The MPCA strives to assist its members with guidance on timely topics, such as short term rentals, and any examples you can provide will help in this endeavor. Please contact Joe Griffiths, Local Assistance and Training Manager at the Maryland Department of Planning at with any questions or insight on short term rentals.

Look for more discussions like this one in future MPCA Corner articles.


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