Jessica Brothers first came to Saranac Lake about 15 years ago, first for the Winter Carnival, then college, and then she never left.
“When I first moved here … you could find a decent place for $600-700 a month, and it would be pet-friendly and everything included,” Brothers said.
She has rented several apartments in town during her time here, and always had animals with her. But in recent years, Brothers said she’s seen rents rise rapidly and outpace local wages.
“All of this is no pets and nothing included now,” Brothers said.
One reason for that, in her view, is the growth of vacation rentals in the region. Many landlords now see short-term rentals as a more lucrative option, and some long-term rentals have driven up their price as well.
Brothers would know: She works part-time as a cleaner for an Airbnb in Saranac Lake owned by a friend who says she couldn’t afford to rent the apartment to long-term tenants. And now that the pandemic has made real estate a seller’s market, some property owners are cashing in, turning houses over to Airbnb investors.
“It’s caused the rental crisis to skyrocket,” Brothers said.
She still has a strong desire to stay in the village, and would like to see the village protect its long-term residents by regulating the short-term market or creating a land trust.
— Mike De Socio
This is part of a story about the shortage of apartments and other rentals in Saranac Lake and other Adirondack communities.
Jonathan Gorgas says
There are several other reasons there is a problem in Saranac Lake – STRs are only a small part of it…if at all.
Barbara Strowger says
STRs have also caused a shortage of workers in restaurants and shops because these workers cannot afford to live near where they could find work.
Jess Brothers says
Yes Jonathan, I totally agree! Taxes and fuel costs of these old houses will put you in the hole…let alone any up keep! Property owners lost TONS of money this year and STRs probably saved many owners from bankruptcy. We don’t have emergency veterinary care anymore….and the biggest problem of all…after AMC got its “face lift,” They can’t keep a doctor!! I have went through four primary care physicians in two years! I conveyed several of these slowly developing issues of our community…but unfortunately this is article is geared towards the shortage of places to rent long term, which is one of several problems that need to be addressed. I don’t claim to have the answers…but I don’t believe land and housing trusts could make a considerable difference for locals and people whom wish to stay forever amongst this wonderful community. I moved here because the people who lived here fought off a Wal Mart…I think we can come up with a solution that benefits everyone if we came together. I’m hopeful, but prepared for anything as the housing crisis is a nation wide issue.
Chuck Bechtel says
This problem is not a Saranac Lake or Adirondack problem, it is a national problem! My son and a grandson who live in Bangor Maine, were informed several weeks ago, that they had 30 days to clear out of their apartment since it was being sold. The new owner plans on using it as rental properties also, but no doubt will jack up the rent a good bit. They and my wife, who was helping them, did an exhaustive search, finally found a place several days ahead of the eviction notice. I learned a long time ago, in economics class, that a good business man will charge what the market will bear.
In every disaster, some people suffer dreadfully, others do quite well. The local real estate agents were selling properties for large percentages over the prices of several years ago, so much so they have run out of places to sell and/or for rent. This too will pass as the experts have predicted an end to the pandemic and a return to normality in the near future.
One person blamed STRs on the shortage of workers in the local area. Really, we have a President who is paying people not to work. Could that have some impact on the lack of workers?
If this is such a daunting problem for the local area and has existed for a long time where is the leadership of the local elected officials? Have they convened meetings of the local real estate companies, local contractors and banks who will will work together to fix the problem. It is much easier to blame citizens who took the initiative to earn extra income from STRs.