Short-term rentals face new regulations in Hubbard County

Short-term rentals (STR), commonly known as Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBOs), in Hubbard County have new regulations, effective May 1, 2022.

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Short-term rentals (STR), commonly known as Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBOs), in Hubbard County have new regulations, effective May 1, 2022.

The Hubbard County Board approved amendments to its shoreland management ordinance at its Aug. 17 meeting.

Among other things, the new rules require STRs to follow guest occupancy limits based on septic system capacity, parking restrictions and quiet hours.

STR owners will also need to apply for an annual license before the May 1 deadline.

County Environmental Services Office (ESO) Director Eric Buitenwerf noted that development of the new STR stipulations commenced last fall, involving the planning commission, public hearings, ESO staff and the county board.


Bob Pogachnik, representing the Gilmore Lake Association, thanked Buitenwerf for his responsiveness. He praised the STR amendments to the shoreland management ordinance.

“It contains the concerns and questions from our lake association. Our main concerns have been maintaining water quality, compliance with sewage systems capacities, water clarity and invasive species. Everything that’s in here will be very much received by our lake association.”

Paul Swenson, a Lake Belle Taine cabin owner, objected to the definition of “people” being added to the ordinance without board authority. The ordinance stated a person is “a natural person over the age of five years that is patronizing, staying at or visiting a short-term rental either as the renter of the facility or a guest of the renter.”

Swenson further challenged the entire process, calling it “defective” and urging the board to go back to the drawing board.

Rob Hall, a retired attorney who also lives in Lake Belle Taine, said he was unaware of the new “person” definition until the meeting and it changes the dynamic of the ordinance.

“What that does is open up the septic possibilities, allowing more people to stay than the septic system provisions that you originally had,” he said, calling it “a travesty.”

Hall noted there are 9,985 lake property owners and the rules should be protective of all of them, not just the 150 or so affected by the new ordinance.

Buitenwerf said three definitions – bedroom, overnight guest and person – were inadvertently left out of the draft copy that county commissioners reviewed last month.


The board agreed to strike the definitions of “bedroom” and “person” from the final document.

Board chair David De La Hunt said the board is trying to regulate STRs to protect all lake property owners. “That is the goal,” he said.

The board discussed additional restrictions for STRs that can accommodate 12 or more guests. After considering a conditional use permit, variance or interim use permit, the board decided that each had serious disadvantages.

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell pointed out that only a dozen or so STRs would be impacted. At this time, parsing out special regulations for a small subset of properties only created more problems, he said.

County commissioners Ted Van Kempen commented that it has been “a long process with many stakeholders.” “I think this is a good first step,” he said.

De La Hunt said a Good Neighbor brochure will be produced and printed, based on an example from Douglas County.

The motion to approve the amendments passed unanimously.

Short-term rental regulations

The Hubbard County Board adopted these provisions for STRs within the updated shoreland management ordinance:


  • No STR may operate without a valid annual license, which must be obtained from the Hubbard County Environmental Services Office (ESO) prior to May 1, 2022. A separate license is required for each rental unit on a lot.

  • The property owner shall keep on file with ESO the name, current telephone number and email address of a contact person who is responsible for responding to questions or concerns regarding the operation of the STR.

  • Overnight guest occupancy is limited to no more than one person for every 75 gallons of water per day that the structure’s sewer system is designed to handle. If there is a holding tank, the occupancy will be limited to no more than one person for every 200 gallons of tank capacity.

  • The septic servicing an STR must be designed with a flow of 75 gallons of water per person.

  • A current SSTS certificate of compliance for any and all SSTS servicing a short-term rental must be submitted as part of a short-term rental license application.

  • Within 120 hours upon request by the county, these documents must be provided: a passing water test for nitrate and coliform dated within one year of current date; proof that Hubbard County property tax payments are not delinquent; demonstration that the STR operation has a license issued by the Minnesota Department of Health or written certification from the property owner that states that a state license is not required.

  • Sufficient vehicle parking shall be accommodated completely onsite or by legal, public parking options.

  • Quiet hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. must be kept by STR users. Enforcement is the responsibility of the property owner.

  • A map clearly showing the property lines of the STR must be provided to rental customers, along with owner contact information, emergency contact information, maximum overnight guest occupancy figures and a copy of the Hubbard County Good Neighbor brochure. Guest occupancy must be included on all advertisements as well.

  • STR owners must require guests to formally acknowledge responsibility for compliance with applicable laws, rules and ordinances pertaining to STRs in Hubbard County.

  • No more than one STR structure is allowed on a lot that does not meet the duplex lot size criteria in the ordinance. No more than two STR structures are allowed to be operated on a lot meeting or exceeding the criteria.

  • Storage, collection and disposal of solid waste must comply with the Hubbard County Solid Waste Ordinance No. 18.

  • A STR license cannot be transferred to a different party.

  • Any violation of any of these criteria may result in the suspension/revocation of the license.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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