HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — If you want to rent property through sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, you can now do so legally in Hampton.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, City Council unanimously approved rules to regulate the growing industry, not unlike other cities and counties have in Hampton Roads.

To operate you must obtain a business license and receive City Council approval via a use permit. Previously, only homes lived in by the owner 60% of the time could lawfully be rented through home-sharing platforms.

Mayor Donnie Tuck said the new rules will not only help the city with enforcement efforts, but also help the city navigate overarching changes the General Assembly may make to short-term rental rules.

The city will consider a property a short-term rental if the property is rented out less than 30 days at a time. It will differ from a traditional Bed & Breakfast in that breakfast isn’t served by the property owner.

Operators will be required to pay lodging taxes and also have some control over issues like parking, trash, and noise. There will be limits on events as well as on the number of guests. A property manager must also be able to respond in short time.

Those currently operating legally in the city will have two years to get a permit. That is 48 properties, according to a city news release. More than 300 short-term rentals have been found advertising in Hampton.

Operating illegally can land a property owner with a $500 fine per occurrence.

“The City will also be starting with outreach and education rather than an aggressive enforcement approach to assist short-term rental operators to understand the change and come in to seek the needed use permit approval,” the city release said.

The rules were crafted with help from a stakeholder group that included neighborhood leaders and short-term rental owners.

Compared to neighboring cities in Hampton Roads where short-term rental rules were approved at the conclusion of heated meetings, the City of Hampton’s passed rather smoothly.

Often, conflict lies in finding the balance between protecting neighborhood character while also allowing for people to operate properties as they wish.

“The Hampton STR Ordinance is almost perfect. It should set the standard for the rest of the Commonwealth,” Greg Garrett, CEO of Newport News-based Garrett Realty Partners, said.

Garrett has been heavily involved in the Peninsula STR Alliance, a group aimed at advocating for property owners who rent. He was nearly thrown out of City Council chambers in Newport News in June when City Council there approved their regulations.

“The process that Hampton used by creating the stakeholder group and really listening was a great process,” Garrett said.

The city leaders said there could still be changes to the regulations, such as limiting the number of short-term rentals in a neighborhood or allowing the zoning administrator to administratively issue a permit, eliminating the need for City Council action on each location.