Like communities across the state and nation, the City of Wilmington is considering the best way to handle short-term rentals, an issue that has emerged recently with the increased use of short-term rental websites by travelers who want alternative accommodations for lodging.

Short-term rentals are not directly addressed in the City’s Land Development Code (LDC) so the city is currently using related regulations that are in the code. This means that right now, a home or single room of a home, must be rented out for at least seven days and have no more than three unrelated people staying there.


The Wilmington City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint work session on the proposed draft on Friday, March 16 at 2 pm in the Harrelson Conference Room, located on the 5th floor of the CresCom bank building, 115 N. 3rd Street.  While the work session will be open to the public, there will not be an opportunity for public input.

Background & Process to-date 

January 29, 2018

The planning commission concluded the public hearing on their review of the proposed code amendments on January 29, 2018. Although the planning commission did agree on several issues, they were unable to reach consensus on the proposed density limits on whole-house short-term lodging establishments. 

December 6, 2017

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on short-term rentals during their regular meeting on December 6. At the meeting, the Planning Commission voted to continue the proposed amendment to their January 3, 2018 meeting. The discussion for the proposed short-term lodging amendment will begin at 4 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall. The draft amendment will not be changed before that meeting.

November 20, 2017

 Staff presented information at a City Council worksession.

October 18, 2017

The Planning Commission held a work session to discuss proposed changes to the code. Following a public input session, the Planning Commission discussed proposed draft amendments.

August 23, 2017

The Planning Commission held a work session on August 23rd to continue their discussion of potential code amendments for “homestay” and “whole house rentals.” The commission’s next special work session will be held in mid-October to allow city staff time to revise the draft ordinance in accordance with recent discussions. The October session will be formatted to receive informal public input (no formal public hearing at this time) before continuing their consideration of any amendments. Any code changes will require formal public hearings before both the Planning Commission and City Council. Listen to the proceedings here.

July 12, 2017

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, the Wilmington Planning Commission held a work session to discuss short-term rentals. Listen to the proceedings here

June 7, 2017

At the direction of the City Manager, staff has reviewed existing code and researched benchmark cities for current practices related to short-term rentals. Short-term rentals fall into several categories, ranging from the rental of a single bedroom, to several bedrooms, to an entire home. The level of supervision of the property also varies, depending on the situation. Read more

The Wilmington Planning Commission held a work session on Wednesday, June 7 to discuss staff research and draft regulations regarding short-term rentals.

May 15, 2017

View below a summary of the draft regulations on short-term rentals that were presented on May 15. Staff will amend these regulations as directed and bring a revised version to the Planning Commission for a public hearing at a date to be determined. 

April 17, 2017

During their agenda briefing on April 17, 2017, the Wilmington City Council heard an update from staff of the results of a public input meeting on potential changes to short-term lodging regulations held on Tuesday, Mar. 14.

Below is some information resulting from the March 14 public input meeting:

February 20, 2017

At the City Council work session on Feb. 20, staff presented options related to potential regulations for short-term lodging, both for “homestay” (rental of a bedroom, with the home occupied by primary resident) and “short-term rentals” (a whole-house rental in which the primary resident is not present during the rental period).

  • In residential districts, homestays would be regulated similar to bed & breakfasts, with a primary resident on site during the rental period, and a separation distance required between establishments. 
  • Council was presented with two alternatives for short-term lodging:
  1. to allow rentals only during designated events, such as Azalea Festival and Riverfest, OR
  2. to allow rentals up to 30 days per calendar year.
  • In commercial districts, homestays, bed & breakfasts, and whole-house rentals would be permitted in the same districts where hotels/motels are permitted. 
  • As with bed & breakfast inns, the primary resident of homestays and whole house rentals in any zoning district would need to register annually with the city. 

Council directed staff to get additional public input before finalizing recommendations. Any recommendations will have to be considered by both the Planning Commission and City Council.  

November 18, 2016 

Council heard an update on this issue at their Nov. 18, 2016 budget retreat. See the attachments below for more detail.

October 3, 2016

 A brief report was presented to City Council on Monday, October 3.See the links below for details

 June 20, 2016

A brief report was presented to City Council on Monday, June 20. After discussion of the various issues brought up in the attachments below, it was determined that staff will hold another public input session and provide a framework for addressing the many issues outline in the presentation. No specific dates have been set but we will inform you as the process is determined in the coming weeks.

May 2, 2016

Below is the information received from the March public input meeting and online survey. This information was compiled and presented to City Council on May 2. 

If you have further questions, please call 910-341-4661

March 17, 2016

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