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Visitor Accommodations Restrictions
Charleston zoning regulations define an Accommodations Use to include hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, short term rentals, rooming and boarding houses, hostels, lodging units, resort units, condominiums, cooperatives, apartments or other units that are included in a “Vacation Time Sharing Plan” or “Vacation Time Sharing Lease Plan”, and all similar uses where the intended and/or usual occupancy would not exceed 29 consecutive days. A Residence Club Use is also defined as an Accommodations Use. All proposed Accommodations Uses, except bed and breakfasts and short term rentals, must be located within the Accommodations Overlay Zone and receive the approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning pursuant to § 54-220.

A Residential Use is distinguished from an Accommodations Use by the term of the occupancy and the characteristics of the use itself. A Residential Use requires a minimum term of occupancy of 30 consecutive days and cannot be a commercial use.

Specific Types of Accommodations Uses

Bed and Breakfast
A use by the record owner of property, who is also the resident of the property where the use is proposed. A Bed and Breakfast unit contains one (1) or more rooms arranged for the purpose of providing sleeping accommodations for transient occupancy by one (1) family.

Bed and Breakfasts are only permitted in certain neighborhoods in the historic districts of Charleston and only if approved by the Zoning Division as a conditional use. A City of Charleston Business License is required. Pursuant to § 54-208 and § 54-208.1, specific requirements depend on the property’s location and whether the property is located in the Old and Historic District or outside the Old and Historic District.

Short Term Rental

Short term rentals are a distinct type of accommodations use consisting of a limited number of fully functioning private dwelling units that are rented to families for periods of between one (1) day and 29 days. Pursuant to § 54-227, to receive the approval of the Zoning Division, the short term rental must be located within the Short Term Rental Overlay Zone and be zoned CT, LB, GB, UT, MU-1, MU-1/WH, MU-2, MU-2/WH (commercial zoning districts). A City of Charleston Business License is required. 

Timesharing
The use of land or the buildings thereon, or any part thereof, as living quarters by one or more Individuals or families where the intended duration of occupancy is normally less than 30 consecutive days and the basis of the right to such occupancy is dependent upon the acquisition, either through title or lease, of units of time which entitle one to exclusive possession of the premises. Timesharing use includes fee simple ownership, commonly called "interval ownership" and right of use or non-fee contract. To receive the approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning, the timeshare facility must be located within the Accommodations Overlay Zone.

Vacation Timesharing Ownership Plans
Any arrangement, plan or similar devise, whether by tenancy in common, sale, term for years, deed, or other means, whereby the purchaser receives an ownership interest in real property and the right to use accommodations or facilities, or both, for a period or periods of time during any given year, but not necessarily for consecutive years, which extends for a period of more than one year. To receive the approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning, the vacation timeshare facility must be located within the Accommodations Overlay Zone.

Residence Club Use

The use of a property by a club for the benefit of members and/or guests of the club, who are eligible to occupy the property for varying lengths of time that may or may not exceed 29 consecutive days. Residence clubs are characterized by the sale of club memberships for the purpose of allowing members and/or guests to occupy club-owned properties for varying lengths of time. To receive the approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning, the vacation timeshare facility must be located within the Accommodations Overlay Zone.