Friday, February 3, 2023

Carolina Beach likely to follow in Wilmington’s footsteps and address short-term rentals

Carolina Beach's mayor says the town will likely discuss things like room taxes and expectations in neighborhoods that are predominantly single-family residences.

Condos and vacation rentals are a common sight in Carolina Beach, but currently there are no regulations when it comes to short-term rentals (Port City Daily photo/FILE)
Condos and vacation rentals are a common sight in Carolina Beach, but currently there are no regulations when it comes to short-term rentals (Port City Daily FILE PHOTO)

CAROLINA BEACH — As the discussion on short-term rentals in Wilmington continues well into its second year, the discussion has caught the eyes of other municipalities in New Hanover County.

In Carolina Beach, the topic of short-term rentals was discussed briefly during a Town Council retreat, with council members agreeing that the town will inevitably end up having to take a look at their own polices on the topic.

While Wilmington and Carolina Beach are within a close proximity of each other, there are several contrasts to the two municipalities. Carolina Beach is a beach town that caters to vacationers and tourists.

Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson offered his take on the short-term rental discussion and admitted the topic is one that the town will have to address.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated population of Carolina Beach in 2016 was just more than 6,000 compared to Wilmington’s 117,525 estimated population.

Carolina Beach relies and even promotes its vacation rentals on its homepage and, according to Airbnb, there are more than 300 rentals available in the beach town. This is compared to an estimated 540 total rentals in Wilmington.

Currently the Town of Carolina Beach does not have any regulations when it comes to short-term rentals, Benson said. When it comes to scale compared to Wilmington, vacation rentals are disproportionately numerous in Carolina Beach.

But not everyone in Carolina Beach is a tourist, and that is why Benson believes the topic needs to be addressed. While Benson agrees that in certain zoning districts where condos and rentals are prevalent, it is expected to have new neighbors on a weekly or sometimes daily basis.

On the other hand, residents who live in a single-family residential area, the precedence of having a stable neighborhood is expected.

The discussion has yet to officially come before Town Council, but Benson said he will be discussing best practices with Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, and he expects the Town Council to hold a workshop addressing the issue.

Benson said he can understand both sides of the debate, but it has not really been a major issue with residents, although there have been some complaints. Benson said short-term rentals is a challenge, not a problem and part of that is ensuring the room occupancy tax is being paid by owners of the properties.

There is no schedule set yet for Town Council to discuss short term rentals, but Benson said he expects to hold a town council workshop in the upcoming months.

Michael Praats can be reached at

Related Articles