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A screenshot of a short-term rental currently available in the town of Ithaca.

ITHACA, NY -- The town of Ithaca is working on legislation to address complaints stemming from short-term rental properties. According to Bill Goodman, the deputy town supervisor, the process started a few years ago after the town started getting calls from residents who were being negatively impacted by their neighbors doing short-term rentals. By definition in the legislation, a short-term rental is one in which a residence or portion of a residence is occupied for a term of less than 30 days.

Goodman said many of the complaints were about renters having loud parties, creating noise issues, causing parking problems and not properly disposing of trash and litter. 

“As a way to address residents’ complaints, we decided we needed to have some short-term regulations,” Goodman said. “We’ve had a number of public sessions over the years where we got input from the residents and got input from the hosts about why they wanted to do it.”

Currently there are no town regulations for short-term rentals, and one of the main changes that the legislation proposes is requiring anyone doing a short-term rental to acquire an operating permit from the town. Hosts will have to fill out an application and the town code enforcement department will make sure the rooms they’re renting out are safe. There will be a fee to get an operating permit, but that number has not been determined yet. In Dryden, the bi-annual fee for short-term rental permits is $90, so $45 per year. 

Additionally, there will be a limit on the number of days people can do “unhosted” short-term rentals, which is when you rent your whole house out and leave the property. Goodman said in most residential areas of the town the limit for unhosted rentals will be set at 29 days in a calendar year.

However, in the lakefront area, which is a special residential zone and has traditionally always had a lot of rentals, the limit will be 245 days in a calendar year. If homeowners want to do a hosted rental where they stay in their home and rent out a bedroom or two, there will be no limit on the number of days. There will be a form on the town website where people can report their rentals so the town can keep track.

Another proposed regulation will only allow people to do short-term rentals in their primary residence or if they own the house next door to their primary residence. Goodman said this is intended to stop people from buying up houses with the sole intent of doing short-term rentals.

Goodman said the town spoke to officials from Cayuga Heights and Dryden for insight, as both municipalities have already implemented some short-term rentals. The state does have some regulations related to short-term rentals, but Goodman said they were created a few years ago mostly in response to what was happening in New York City with multi-unit buildings.

The town is holding a public hearing on the legislation on Dec. 13 during the Town Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Visit http://www.town.ithaca.ny.us/meeting-calendar for the Zoom link to participate or the YouTube link to watch.

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