Short-term rental laws discriminate against certain property owners

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By Katelyn Moskos

Every United States citizen has the right to “life, liberty and property.” For, as the Supreme Court of the United States has always recognized, “No right is held more  sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the  possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless  by clear and unquestionable authority of law.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 8 (1968); citing Union  Pacific Railway Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891). 

Short-term rental laws are discriminating against certain property owners making laws specific to one property but not the other. Every person that rents short-term is still the sole property owner. Putting restrictions on certain homes is unjust. All of our rentals have a rental agreement that includes quiet hours, maximum occupancy for housing as well as parking, pet agreements which includes a copy of rabies vaccination, fire and safety as well as up to date systems. It is also my understanding that various other laws and codes already cover nearly all of this local law – occupancy rules, egress, electrical code, septic rules, fire code, etc. My question is this: What if a neighbor has a complaint for a non-rental home? Who do they call? How is this rectified? The answer is, it is not. How is that fair? If you neighbor a rental, you get complaints taken care of, but not for an owner-occupied home, why? Therefore, if I were to have a complaint regarding my neighbor that is owner-occupied, I can do nothing.


RELATED: Communities should regulate STR’s, says Town of Webb board member Barbara Green


Speaking only for Northern Living: I think it is important to address the fact that we have always been upfront with everything about our business. Everything has been permitted and/or disclosed, ie. Number of people sleeping in the rental overnight, any structural changes we have made, our rates, etc.  I have always been, and intend to continue to be, upfront with my business because I have nothing to hide.  I run this business within the guidelines allowed.  Everything regarding my homes has been up to code and approved by the county. All of our septic systems have been updated to accommodate the amount of people we sleep, etc. All of my houses have cameras to monitor everyone’s safety.  At all our rental homes, we cater to all our neighbors to ensure they are not bothered by our renters or our normal business. We have always made it a point to communicate with them, and provided contact information, in the event they need to notify us of anything.  We have responded promptly and rectified whatever it was within minutes. 

The proliferation of short-term rentals is a benefit to the community, not a burden.  Speaking only for Northern Living, it has taken dilapidated properties and transformed them into beautiful residences, increasing the value of not only those properties but the values of neighboring properties, strengthening both the housing stock and the residential property tax base in the Town.  Counties have also established bed taxes, making it so any type of short term rental pays a tax (Airbnb’s, hotels, etc), bringing in another type of revenue for surrounding towns. 

Short-term rentals bring people to the community, supporting local businesses and employing local residents.  

The benefits are several, the burdens few. 

Even if you don’t own a rental, this should scare you. A freedom taken away is one that you rarely ever get back. They don’t remove laws and give us more freedom, they slowly take it away, one law at a time. If this law were to pass, what’s next?

— Katelyn Moskos is the Owner of Northern Living NY, based in Lake George. She’s also an organizer of “Hands off our Homes,”  a group opposed to short-term rental laws in Fort Ann: https://www.handsoffourhomes.com. (Artwork provided by Hands off our Homes)

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Comments

  1. steve beach says

    A property owner who rents a home as a short term rental is operating a hotel and should be required to meet all regulations that hotels, motels or cabin colonies have to meet. Currently so called short term rentals are beyond all regulations. That includes: fire, water, sanitation, electrical safety, general maintenance, hazardous materials, vermin control, linens and bedding, refuse storage and unruly guests. They should be required to apply for and receive full hotel certification and be required to show prove of $10,000,000 of liability coverage.

  2. Joan Grabe says

    Let us not raise our flag or our constitution over this prickly problem of short term rentals. Your right to rent your property short term is not a constitutional issue. You have complied with all local ordinances but your renters come as they are and sometimes it is not pleasant. If I had a neighbor/renter who was playing loud music and disturbing me I would call the police. But only after I spoke with them personally. If the same owner / renter did not adequately take care of his trash I would call the town after I talked to them personally. Or I would attempt to talk to the owner of the rental property since the tenter would be long gone. Reading the tone of your letter I suppose I would not get much satisfaction. We had this problem on our road last summer, I hope it has been solved equitably by the time I return next summer. Oddly enough the property is among a string that include 2 university camps amongst which they have all co- existed for years. Then one of the properties became a short term rental and the problems started. Anecdotal for sure but enough for me. No one wants to impact your income but you cannot operate in an unregulated manner simply because it is your property.

  3. Annette Scheuer says

    It’s admirable that you’ve done your best to maintain your property and be courteous to your neighbors. However, a) not all rental property owners are as responsible – the kinds of things you do voluntarily are exactly the types of things most reasonable people want short term rental owners to be required to get a permit for, because many property owners are not as courteous, b) with all due respect you are wrong about the ability to complain about full time homeowners and c) you are ignoring the larger issue. First, you absolutely do have avenues for complaining about noise, code violations, dangerous/offensive behavior or illegal activities involving full time residential homeowners. These are called, “local police,” and “code enforcement officers.” Second, short term vacation rentals are pricing local people out of the housing market, which is very unhealthy for the local community. Third, the bigger issue is that once a certain threshold number of vacation rental properties in any given residential neighborhood is reached, it fundamentally changes the character of a “residential” neighborhood. I invite you to read a guest commentary I wrote in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on this topic. It does matter and it is not healthy for permanent residents and families who want to raise children in a stable neighborhood, where parents know who lives in their neighbors’ homes, and where long-term relationships can be established, which is what a “community” is. I am all for short term rentals as I have stayed in many myself, including locations abroad. They are fantastic and far better than a hotel room. However, the explosion of short term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods has made regulation necessary. Communities around the world are facing this same issue of local neighborhoods being overrun by short term rentals, which is in effect transforming neighborhoods into strips of rental condos. Please consider the bigger picture of how we define “neighborhood” and “community.”

  4. Lee Nellis says

    This is disingenuous. It avoids the real issue by attempting to divert attention onto the differences in regulation of the potential nuisances associated with rentals v those associated with owner-occupied units. The pressing issue, which is ignored here, is that proliferating STRs weaken local economies by diminishing the stock of housing available to those who hold essential, but low (low relative to the cost of housing) paying jobs. This is a serious issue in Lake Placid now and will become serious in other communities in the region if appropriate taxation and regulation are not instituted.

  5. M.P Heller says

    People debate and make suggestions. This is the crux of democracy in action.

    There are “hotel laws”, “sanitation laws”, and “occupancy laws” in NYS. It’s inaccurate to claim otherwise. It’s not up to town and village administrations to regulate these topics. It’s an inappropriate interpretation of ordinance powers.

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