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New Pennington County vacation rental regulations kick in Wednesday


Licensing policy is now in place for homes deemed “vacation rentals” in Pennington County.

As homes are taken off the market by such rentals, officials say regulations like these could open more homes to full-time residents.

These licenses are required for some, but not all vacation rentals in Pennington County as of this week.

County planning director Brittney Molitor explained the new policy.

“One of them is that they have a South Dakota Department of Health lodging license and that they have a South Dakota Department of Revenue license, and a local contact," Molitor said. "If they have a septic system, they have to meet the requirements for the number of guests based on their septic system. The maximum number of bedrooms is five, and no portion of the dwelling can be in a floodway.”

These regulations won’t impact, say, a single-room rental on Airbnb.

“A vacation home rental is a single-family residence, or a dwelling rented in its entirety to one family," Molitor said. "If you have a home, on a lot, and you rent it on a short-term basis versus a long-term basis, we’d call it a short-term rental.”

Molitor said it’s a matter of calling these rentals what they are in code.

"This is more of an administrative process," Molitor said. "When we look at land use and land use definitions, the way someone uses that structure or dwelling – whether it’s a vacation home, a short-term rental, a long-term rental or an owner – they’re still using it, quote unquote, as a single-family residence or a home. So, that’s why we went to the licensing procedure, so there’s still some accountability there, still some health and safety checks for it.”

Molitor estimated about 3% of the county’s 50,000 single-family units will face these regulations. In total, that represents 1,500 units in Pennington County alone.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture