Not known for an expansive view of the powers of state government, some New York Republicans can at least imagine a role for the state in regulating the spread of Short-term rentals.
“Short-term rentals are definitely having an effect on housing,” said Assemblyman Scott Gray of Watertown. “We’re looking at ideas that can be incorporated into statewide, Short-term rental policies.”
According to Matt Simpson, the Lake George region’s representative in the Assembly, members of the Republican conference “have identified a whole host of issues that fall well within the state’s sphere of responsibility.”
A Statewide Tourism Task Force Listening Tour
Gray, the ranking member of the Assembly’s Tourism Committee, was in Lake George on August 9 as part of a statewide tourism task force “listening” tour.
“We’re interested in what is important to the tourism community and in learning what it needs from us,” said Gray. “We’re looking at items that we can take back to Albany, things we can advocate for in the state budget as well as at possible legislative initiatives that might help boost and sustain the tourism economy.”
According to Matt Simpson, who sits on the Tourism committee, the Assembly members and their staffs spent the morning in Lake George speaking with Adirondack tourism officials, chambers of commerce leaders, business owners and representatives of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks and Recreation. County and municipal government officials also took part in the conversations.
Assemblyman Gray commented, “People hear from politicians more frequently than they’re listened to by politicians. We’re depending upon the folks involved in the tourism industry to help us to do our jobs better, which, if we’re successful, will help your communities do better.”
Local and State Regulation of STRs
As of now, the regulation of Short-term rentals is strictly a local concern.
The Village and the Town of Lake George and the Town of Bolton have all adopted regulations to allow Short-term rentals where appropriate and to limit their less savory impacts on residential neighborhoods.
Hague is giving consideration to a new ordinance which, among other things, would prohibit anyone who has not owned a residential property for at least three years from renting it on a short-term basis.
According to the Northern Forest Center, a rural-focused research institute, “The most harmful impact comes from investors who purchase properties to operate full-time STRs.”
The proposed language in Hague’s draft regulation –
which exempts from the prohibition members of the previous owner’s family – is clearly meant to deter people from outside the community from purchasing homes solely for their potential as income-producing properties.
The Northern Forest Center’s November, 2022 report, “Municipal Short-Term Rental Policies: Analysis and Recommendations for Adirondack Communities” stated, “These investors can outbid most residents looking to use the property as their primary residence. The impact of full-time STRs also extends to long-term rental housing. A home that may conventionally be rented for $1,200 a month can easily generate that revenue if not more in a week as an STR.”
According to Assemblyman Gray, taking single family homes and turning them into commercial properties “is constricting the whole housing marking. It’s exacerbating the housing problem.”
At the very least, Gray said, owners should be required to obtain business licenses and assessors ought to consider a Short-term rental’s business income when assessing its value and, ultimately, its share of the local property burden.
Among other things, Matt Simpson proposes that Short-term rentals be required to adhere to all state standards for occupancy limits, septic systems and all regulations that govern tourist accommodations.
Simpson said he and his colleagues were mindful of local prerogatives.
“Every community has a different perspective on Short-term rentals and its effect on the community. A comprehensive approach would allow us to determine what’s appropriate for the state to address and what should be left to the localities,” said Simpson.