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Crafton cracks down on residential vacation rentals

By Alice Crow

Crafton is enforcing a ban on full-house vacation rental properties in Residential 1 and 2 zoned districts after complaints from neighbors.

One of the houses had been operating for over a year and, according to complaints, was causing issues in the neighborhood.

Borough Manager Jim Price explained that the complaints primarily focused on parking, as space became limited when guests stayed at the vacation rental.

“It is very common, and we’ve heard this from other municipal managers, that people have parties in them and that’s when they become a serious issue. It may happen, but I don’t know,” Price said.

There are around a dozen vacation rentals listed on sites like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway currently operating in Crafton, Price said during the Borough Council meeting on April 13.

Two of those vacation rentals have received, or will soon be receiving, a zoning notice prohibiting them from operating in residential districts.

Full-house vacation rentals are prohibited in residential districts due to their commercial status, as defined by a 2019 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case.

“Basically the Supreme Court determined that short term rentals are commercial in nature and they do not jive with a residential use,” Solicitor Stephen Korbel said.

“So unless your ordinance specifically permits that commercial use, they are not permitted in residential districts.”

While some short term rentals will have to discontinue operating in Crafton, others in commercial districts, and small rentals in residential districts, may still be allowed.

“One of [the vacation rentals] is actually permitted with no question because it is in the commercial district,” Price said.

“The other ones are all one-bedroom Airbnbs and there it gets a little murkier what the rules are around that because you are allowed to have a no-impact home business and you can use a certain amount, like up to 20% of your house for that.”

Crafton can reconsider how it handles the issue in the near future, as the Borough is currently undergoing a zoning update process.

Price explained that the Multi-Municipal Zoning Project can reconsider how, or if, vacation rentals are allowed in Crafton.

The project will be finalized in the next several months.


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