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The City of Lewes has experienced increases in tourism, changes in the rental industry, growth of unlicensed rentals, and difficulties in enforcing past regulations.
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The ordinance was adopted by the Mayor and City Council during their meeting on October 10, 2022.
The ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
The Residential Rental License Application can be found on the city’s website under “How Do I Apply For”. Complete and submit the application form to the City of Lewes attention Licensing, P.O. Box 227, Lewes, DE 19958. For questions, please contact 302-645-7777 ext. 124.
This ordinance shall not impair any rental contract in effect prior to January 1, 2023.
The Mayor and City Council appointed a 5-member Short Term Rental Ad Hoc Committee in March of 2022. Over several months of work that included eight public meetings, this group analyzed all aspects of renting in Lewes. The Committee concluded its work by recommending policy changes to the City’s regulations. On October 3, 2022, Mayor and City Council held a public hearing to obtain public comments. Councilmembers studied the issues in detail, made changes, and adopted the Ordinances on October 10, 2022. The new ordinances can be found by going to https://www.ci.lewes.de.us/352/Short-TermRentals
These regulations provide clarification between short-term and long-term rentals. They also provide additional eligibility, licensing, safety, and owner compliance requirements to protect the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
These new ordinances were developed under a collaborative process involving multiple public input opportunities and representatives of all areas of the city. There are now more stringent licensing, safety, and owner compliance requirements. A variety of new enforcement tools are available to the city under the new ordinances.
The regulations have been carefully crafted to allow the City multiple avenues of enforcement for renters. They broaden what qualifies as a violation and allow for effectively targeted enforcement via specific categories. In addition, the City will continue to engage a company to identify properties within the city that are rented via web-based platforms to facilitate better rental licensing enforcement.
Currently, operating rentals will be allowed to continue if they meet the criteria in the new ordinance.
Please contact the Planning & Building Department at 302-645-7777 ext. 124 to report a suspected unlicensed rental.
Under the new regulation, a short-term rental (STR) is defined as all or any portion thereof of a residential dwelling unit that is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes to one party with a duration of occupancy of thirty (30) consecutive days or less. Hotels, motels, and other land uses explicitly defined and regulated in this ordinance separately from short-term rentals are not considered to be short-term rentals.
Yes, if you are renting the property with a duration of occupancy of thirty (30) consecutive days or less.
Short-term rentals are licensed in all areas of the City of Lewes.
No. Short-term rentals shall not be operated outdoors, in a recreational vehicle, or in any nonresidential structure.
The owner of any long-term or short-term rental shall obtain the appropriate rental license from the City of Lewes prior to renting the property.
License Fee per rental unit:
*Note: For violations not paid within 30 days of issuance, the fine amount will be doubled.
By obtaining a license the property owner agrees to allow the Planning and Building Department the right to inspect a rental to confirm attestations of all application information and license requirements. Inspections shall be performed at an agreed upon time with no less than 48 hours prior notice, except in the case of an immediate threat to public safety. Nonresponse to or refusal of an inspection shall be grounds for the suspension of a short-term rental license.
By no later than February 1st, submit a completed rental license application along with the annual license fee and remit the Gross Rental Receipts Tax (GRRT) for the previous year payment to the City of Lewes.
A newly issued license is valid for one calendar year and is not automatically renewed. License renewals will be in a substantially similar form and manner as the initial license. A new attestation of all information will be required as well as proof of payment of all applicable taxes for the previous year.
"Maximum occupancy" means the maximum number of allowable occupants and the overnight guests of those occupants for a short-term rental, as established in Section §150-5 of the ordinance. The “Occupancy Limit” is based upon the number of bedrooms in the dwelling. The overnight occupancy of a residential rental shall not exceed the sum of two persons per bedroom plus an additional two persons. Children aged 12 and younger shall not be counted towards the overall number of occupants. A “Bedroom” is defined as a room or space designed to be used for sleeping purposes with two means of egress (one of which may be a window that meets egress requirements.) Spaces used for eating or cooking, bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility rooms and similar uses are not considered Bedrooms.
An owner does not have to be present for the duration of their guests’ stay. However, a “local contact” must be available. Local contact means the individual designated by the license holder to perform obligations under this ordinance and to serve as the contact person for issues relating to a short-term rental. The designated contact must be available twenty-four (24) hours a day to accept telephone calls and respond physically to the short-term rental within a reasonable time period, not to exceed two (2) hours when the short-term rental is rented and occupied.
The sum of six notices of license and operational violations during the term of the rental license or any revocation of a license shall be grounds for denial of a license issuance or renewal for twelve (12) months from the date of revocation.
Any person having a complaint regarding any alleged violation or violations for a rental shall call the Planning and Building Department at 302-645-7777 ext. 124 at City Hall Monday through Friday, excluding weekends and holidays. For weekends, holidays, and outside office hours, any person having a complaint should contact the Police Department 302-645-6264. If the complainant feels the property owner or the authorized agent failed to satisfactorily resolve a complaint, the complainant shall notify the City Manager in writing. The City Manager will investigate the complaint, and if deemed accurate, will authorize the Planning and Building Department to issue a notice of violation to the property owner or the authorized agent. Appeals may be filed according to Article IV in the ordinance.
Additional documents related to renting are available on the City of Lewes’s website. Further questions should be directed to: Planning and Building Department 302-645-7777 ext. 124 Email: email@example.com