Maine towns pressured to rein in short-term rentals of homes as recognition grows

August 8, 2016 - Finding Carter

A week’s stay during a beachfront lodge or lakeside cabin has prolonged been a tack of vacationing in Maine, used by generations of visitors to a state.

Now a remarkable arise of home-sharing websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO is permitting some-more people to marketplace their private homes as vacation destinations. A discerning online hunt turns adult thousands of properties for lease in Maine’s tip tourism destinations.

But a use has roughly no state regulation, and towns and cities are underneath flourishing vigour to rein in short-term rentals. Full-time residents have complained about parking, sound and reserve issues.

Some people worry that investors will daub into a marketplace and buy adult homes with a solitary vigilant of using an online let business, withdrawal neighborhoods where full-time residents are a minority.

The hotel industry, that is compelling regulation, complains that such let properties are astray competition.

“It is really something that needs to be on a front burner,” pronounced Kim Verreault, executive executive of a Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce, that has asked a city to demeanour into a emanate in a renouned beach community.

“It is an emanate for us, period,” Verreault said.

STATE NOT TAKING LEAD ON POLICY

Online short-term rentals are a inhabitant hot-button issue, and cities opposite a U.S. are grappling with how to shorten or umpire a practice.

Portland has tackled a emanate by enforcing zoning manners that demarcate short-term rentals in most of a city and issuing violations to several operators. The City Council’s Housing Committee also intends to emanate manners for short-term rentals.

Owners of let properties contend concerns are overblown. Online open reviews for hosts and guest assistance owners equivocate people who competence chuck shrill parties or mangle residence rules.

For some, renting online helps compensate a debt for a dream home they wish to pierce to after retirement. Services like Airbnb also offer guest an event to rivet with a internal village and have a singular experience, compared with staying during a normal hotel, let owners argue.

Linda Jarochym, who rents out her Ogunquit residence to visitors in a summer, has listened complaints that rentals like hers harm internal hotels and inns, though she doesn’t buy it. Her renters are mostly families who wish a amenities of home and to stay for during slightest a week, she said.

“I don’t consider we are holding divided from their clientele. The people who come to a house, they don’t wish to stay during a hotel,” Jarochym said. “I consider we are bringing some-more income here, not holding divided from hotels. They are totally opposite clients.”

State legislation to umpire such rentals has been proposed, though never finished it out of committee. Last year, dozens of skill owners testified against a bill to need short-term let licensing.

The camp attention has given incited to internal authorities, pronounced Greg Dugal, boss of a Maine Innkeepers Association. Unregulated short-term rentals don’t have to get a same permits or word as hotels and inns, he said. That means they can publicize ignored camp and undercut bigger camp businesses.

“You are not going to make them belong to a same standards as vast hotels, though they do need to have some standards,” Dugal said.

Justin Ford, clamp boss of a Vacation Rental Professionals of Maine, pronounced his classification isn’t against to internal regulations, as prolonged as they are not too restrictive. In 2015, vacation rentals brought in $205 million in sum sales and $16 million in camp taxes to a state, Ford said.

His vital regard is that people renting their properties online don’t take simple life reserve precautions such as fume and CO monoxide alarms, or routes for evading a blazing building. With a fast flourishing numbers of short-term rentals, a chances of a tragedy like a fatal 2014 Noyes Street glow in Portland are multiplying, he warned.

“It is a ticking time bomb. What happened in Portland is going to occur in (a) vacation rental,” Ford said.

Requiring skill owners to have word for a blurb operation would assuage that issue, he said. Airbnb offers host insurance for adult to $1 million in guilt by a website.

With so many issues during play, state policy, rather than internal regulation, is a intelligent proceed for short-term rentals, pronounced Matt Kiessling, a clamp boss during a Travel Technology Association, an attention organisation that represents online platforms.

If municipalities levy their possess rules, “what we are circuitous adult with is a patchwork of regulations that creates it really formidable for everybody involved,” he said.

TOWN VIEWS ON REGULATION DIFFER

Ogunquit, a bustling beach village in York County, is one of a towns and cities rebellious a online let market. This summer, a city bureau novice has gathered a database of online rentals by relating let locations to taxation maps and extraneous photos posted online to houses in town.

Ogunquit allows short-term rentals, though requires a weeklong smallest stay, business registration, and reserve formula compliance, pronounced Code Enforcement Officer Scott Heyland. Through a sleuthing, a city found 173 properties advertised for lease and 44 have purebred with a town, Heyland said. He is scheming a minute to skill owners inventory short-term let rules. Next year, a city will expected introduce a rental-specific ordinance.

Officials in adjacent Wells, however, pronounced they don’t intend to umpire online rentals since a city doesn’t have a manpower for enforcement.

“We’re a traveller economy. People are going to make their income one approach or another,” pronounced Town Manager Jonathan Carter.

The city bureau in Bethel, a renouned ski review destination, has perceived no complaints about short-term rentals and doesn’t intend to levy restrictions. “There’s no regulation, and we don’t have zoning in Bethel,” pronounced Town Manager Christine Landes.

But York, only south of Ogunquit, is scheming to residence a emanate head-on after receiving complaints about parking, sound and uncontrolled parties, pronounced Town Manager Stephen Burns.

The emanate is also roiling communities in midcoast Maine.

In April, a Rockland City Council adopted a six-page short-term let bidding after some-more than a year of debate. The bidding lists 3 tiers of rentals, and all owners are compulsory to uncover explanation of insurance, get Planning Board approval, live in Rockland or have a skill manager in a surrounding town, heed to reserve standards, register annually, contend let transaction annals and post a notice on their skill with a hit and assent information. Some properties will need glow dialect inspections and might need to implement sprinkler systems. Owners have until a finish of Oct to register with a city.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root pronounced a emanate came to a conduct since he couldn’t hoop a series of properties out of correspondence with internal codes. There are also concerns that absentee investors could buy properties to lease online. That amounts to handling a blurb craving in a residential area and reduces accessible housing for year-round rentals, Root said.

“Some people say, ‘I am renting it out to equivalent my skill tax,’ ” Root said. “When people are shopping houses simply to lease out, that is not a viable excuse.

“I am positively in preference of Maine and Rockland being a tourism destination,” he said. “But we have a regard about gripping neighborhoods neighborhoods.”

A brief expostulate northward in Camden, an innkeepers organisation pushed a city to make manners about renting one or dual bedrooms in an owner-occupied home.

Ted Weiss, who owns a Hawthorne Inn in Camden, pronounced he and other bed and breakfast operators have beheld a downturn in business during a same time Airbnb and other sites have grown in popularity.

This year, he started tracking properties posted online and anticipating out that ones he suspicion disregarded a town’s ordinances – for example, since they were camp some-more guest than allowed. He identified 11 noncompliant properties, though until recently had a tough time removing a town’s formula bureau to respond, Weiss said.

“The ones that are renting out a integrate bedrooms for reduction than 7 days during a time are approach competitors to us,” Weiss said. Based on their online engagement calendars, some of a properties have improved occupancy rates than his possess business.

“It is transparent (that) repairs is being done,” he said.

“Nobody here is looking for a change to a ordinance,” he noted. “We consider it is a good ordinance. It would be a lot improved if it was enforced.”

ENFORCEMENT OF RULES DIFFICULT

But for all communities, enforcing a fast growing, and differently unregulated, short-term let marketplace is a formidable task.

Bar Harbor, one of a Maine’s best-known destinations, upheld regulations on short-term rentals some-more than a decade ago and updated a manners in 2010. The city requires units rented out for fewer than 30 days to be purebred with a city and legalised by a glow department. Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain pronounced a city gets 20 to 25 new applications a year, though admits some fly underneath a radar.

“Absolutely, we can demeanour on Airbnb and see ones that were never permitted,” she said.

 


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