Bed and breakfast owners demand action on short-term rentals

A group of bed and breakfast owners in Greenport wants the village to start regulating short-term rentals such as those advertised on web sites like AirBNB.

They say those rentals are hurting their businesses and also are avoiding taxes and building regulations that regular B&Bs must pay.

“It’s definitely affected my business,” said Clayton Sauer of the Stirling House B&B. “I’m down 18 percent over the past two years.”

He said he has to pay an 11.6 percent sales and hospitality tax that short-term rentals are not being made to pay. He said many short-term rentals “are notoriously cheap.” Because they are living in houses, they have kitchens and can eat there, rather than going to local restaurants.

Bridget Elkin, who owns the Morning Glory B&B, said the village code places many requirements on B&Bs, which limits on the number of rooms that can be rented and a requirement that they be owner-occupied. She said the reasons for having those laws in place are the same reasons for why short-term rentals should have similar laws.

Greenport Village is one of the only municipalities on the East End that doesn’t have laws specifically regulating short-term rentals, according to Mayor George Hubbard.But the Village board is planning to do something about that.

The board reviewed a proposed law drawn up by village attorney Joe Prokop and said it plans to discuss it at the June 28 meeting, at which time the board also plans to scheduled a public hearing for its August meeting.

“This has been going on for way too long,” Mr. Hubbard said of the lack of regulation on short-term rentals.

The village does have a law requiring all residential rentals to be inspected and to obtain a rental permit from the village. However, it doesn’t have laws specifically regulating short-term rentals.

Trustee Doug Roberts estimates there are about 70 short-term rentals in the village, based on a survey he hired an intern to do last year.

The proposal discussed by the board at Thursday’s work session requires short-term rentals to be limited to the R1 an R2 districts, which are residential, and requires them to be owner-occupied, or if they aren’t, they need conditional approval, which requires a public hearing.

Mr. Hubbard said the board could make changes to the proposal prior to scheduling the public hearing.

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>Photo caption: A map of AirBNB rentals being listed in Greenport. 

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