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Unregulated short-term rental properties: What’s being done in our region?

Short-term rental properties are all the rage as more people are buying houses as investments and renting them out as vacation homes on apps like Airbnb and VRBO.

The Finger Lakes area brings lots of attractions such as wineries, lakes, and hiking and camping areas.

How are counties in the Finger Lakes dealing with the growing number of short-term rentals? (video)

More: Varick to consider short-term vacation rental regulations

Seneca County towns are creating local ordinances to regulate short-term rentals

Seneca County Manager, Mitchell Rowe said the county has a few towns that have already adopted local ordinances that regulate short-term or vacation rentals.

“They require an application being made to obtain a permit and they outline standards for things like noise, parking, and other things that can potentially be a nuisance for neighboring property owners and residents,” said Rowe.

“The town of Fayette was the first here. The town touches both lakes, so they have issues on both Cayuga and Seneca Lake. The town of Varrick is actively engaged in adopting a short-term rental ordinance for their town as a part of their zoning code.”

Seneca county has entered into an agreement with a company called Granicus that offers short-term rental compliance monitoring.

“We actually will be starting to have a part-time compliance officer that will go out to the properties to try to verify whether, in fact, they are being rented,” said Rowe.

More: Renting: Top 10 cities to rent in

Ontario County is changing its enabling statute from New York State that affects local occupancy tax

Ontario County Administrator, Christopher DeBolt, said the county currently cannot collect occupancy tax through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO because of their current statute from NYS that exempts the local occupancy tax for a house with less than four rooms.

DeBolt said the Ontario County Board of Supervisors has been discussing this issue for about a year now as it’s creating an unfair playing field between traditional Hotels and Airbnb.

“They’ve just given some direction to the county treasurer, who was in charge of enforcing the occupancy tax and administering it, to try to start the process to have discussions with the state about modifying our enabling statute from the state to remove that exemption.”

Using data to track down the number of short-term rentals in the area

Jill Henry is the Seneca County Planning and Community Development Director and she mentioned this issue of short-term rentals also affects affordable housing.

“On the county level, this has been a concern on the concept of housing and the availability of adequate and affordable housing in the county. We received a grant and will be including the effects of short-term rentals on the local community in the housing availability in the near future.”

DeBolt said Ontario County is facing a similar problem and is going through a formal process of getting that data that they can share with the community.

“The board is going to award a contract to a consultant to do a comprehensive housing needs assessment. We can start to inform policymakers with potentially how many units of permanent housing in stock had been taken out for the short-term rentals, and we’ve got to make up for that somewhere.”

More: BUILDING STRONGER COMMUNITIES: The Ups and Downs of Short-Term Rentals (podcast)