The Woodstock Town Board discussed tweaks to new short-term rental regulations in front of a noticeably smaller audience before planned passage at May 21 business meeting. The law attempts to strike a balance between homeowners trying to supplement their income and continue to afford to keep their property while trying to keep entrepreneurs from buying properties and operating short-term rentals as a primary business.
The law limits non-owner-occupied short-term rentals to 180 days or 26 weekends. That was recently clarified to include partial weekends in the total. Weekends include the period between Friday evening and Monday morning.
Registration by corporation owners with interest in more than one short-term rental is not allowed, a cap intended to keep people from buying properties under limited liability companies to get around the one-property limit.
Homeowner John Ludwig asked how this is going to be monitored since listing the names of company owners is not part of the law. Supervisor Bill McKenna said it will be part of the application. “The application wouldn’t be processed if it is not completely filled out,” McKenna said.
He also reminded people short-term rentals are now illegal when the owner is not present. The law will bring those properties into compliance.
Yet to be discussed are yearly caps, regardless of whether the owner is present. Caps and a schedule of fees are purposely left out of the law so they can be set yearly by resolution, a much quicker process.
“I suggest we look at the number we have now and cap it at that number,” McKenna said. Applications will be first come, first serve among established rentals. New rentals would need to wait until someone doesn’t renew.
Several in recent meetings have blamed short-term rentals at least partly for the lack of affordable year-round rentals. The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan noted a vacancy rate of less than 1 percent.
But short-term rental committee chair Richard Heppner said the new law won’t solve the housing problem. A housing committee is working hard to come up with solutions including possible tax incentives for landlords who provide long-term rentals, he said.
Heppner said the new law was a “group effort” and touted it as a major accomplishment “in a town where consensus is not always easy.”