PROS AND CONS OF SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS
In recent years, the short-term rental (STR) market has grown in Sullivan County and its surrounding areas and there are no signs that it will disappear any time soon given the popularity of websites like Airbnb and VRBO. When STRs are properly regulated, positive impacts can benefit municipalities, homeowners, tourists and the local economy.
Properly regulated STRs result from local governments adopting enforceable legislation that protects the interests of neighbors and of the community as a whole. Such STR regulations typically address matters such as health and safety, zoning, permitting and enforcement. Several municipalities in Sullivan County have already adopted sensible STR laws that might be used as models for other communities seeking to promote STR regulation and benefits. Taxation of STRs is authorized by Section 182-24 of the Sullivan County Code which imposes a five percent tax on the rent collected from STRs located in the County. The funds that the County receives from this tax are distributed to various local groups such as the Sullivan County Visitors Association. Reasonable regulations successfully respond to concerns of the community and allow local governments to achieve their mission of protecting the public health, safety and welfare while promoting the economic benefits associated with STRs.
When STRs are properly regulated, homeowners, tourists and the local economy also benefit. Homeowners in the region benefit by using extra income generated by STRs to address costs such as mortgage payments and home repairs. STRs also enable some homeowners to remain in their homes who otherwise would not be able to afford to stay. Homeowners also use STR income to hire individuals in the community to perform tasks such as cleaning and landscaping services. In turn, tourists benefit by taking advantage of an affordable form of housing with the knowledge that there are enforceable regulations in place to protect their health, safety and welfare. Moreover, tourists taking advantage of STRs in Sullivan County provide a boost to the local economy. In addition to taking advantage of major Sullivan County tourist attractions such as the Resorts World Casino and the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, tourists also spend money in local businesses, stores and restaurants. Given that STRs typically offer tourists a wider geographic range of options to choose from when compared to traditional hotels which are usually located in travel hotspots, the boost to the local economy resulting from STRs can be realized by the entire community.
Given their positive impacts on the community and their increasing popularity among homeowners and travelers alike, STRs are likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. Municipalities in Sullivan County can best address this reality by drafting reasonable and enforceable legislation that is geared towards benefitting the community as a whole. Such legislation should result from dialogue between local officials, homeowners and other stakeholders who clearly identify community objectives and appropriately regulate STR matters.
A version of this article appeared in the Sullivan County Partnership’s In the Know Magazine – March 2023 edition.
This is not to be considered legal advise. Please reach out to an attorney for information regarding your specific situation.