Regulating Short-term rentals

APA Pennsylvania Chapter


Wednesday, July 18, 2018
noon - 1:15 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.25

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The short-term rental (STR) market for using rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO has grown significantly in recent years. These services allow property owners to realize the economic benefit of renting all or part of their properties as an STR.   However, there are corresponding concerns raised by neighboring property owners who feel STRs could result in the loss of a sense of community given the transient nature of such a use.


Recent Commonwealth Court cases highlight the difficulty that municipalities have in attempting to regulate short-term rentals under zoning ordinances that do not specifically address the use. In the cases, the municipalities attempted to regulate STRs by determining that the use was not a permitted single-family dwelling use but rather was a use not permitted in the underlying zoning district such as a “lodge,” “tourist home” or “transient lodging business.” In all three cases, and others, the Commonwealth Court looked at the definitions in the zoning ordinances and found that the use categories relied upon by the municipalities were not applicable and the STRs were not prohibited.


A case study of how a Pennsylvania township adopted a Short-term rental ordinance will be discussed. A history of what happened in the township prior to the adoption of the ordinance and what has transpired since with a focus on how the township is regulating, rather than restricting, this new use.

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Claudia Shank, Esquire

Claudia Shank is an Associate in McNees Wallace & Nurick’s Lancaster office where she practices in the Real Estate group. Claudia focuses on representing individuals and developers before municipal entities in land use and permitting matters. Claudia also assists her clients in obtaining zoning relief, including variance, special exception and ... Read More

Shawn McGlynn

SFM Consulting LLC is a logical result of Shawn McGlynn's experience in construction and his educational experience in Environmental Studies. Shawn received his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Stockton University in 1983. He then served as co-founder and President of Renaissance Restoration, Inc., a timber frame ... Read More

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