The town of Olive was the latest of many communities to enact a law to regulate and limit short-term rentals to increase available year-round housing that is affordable to those who work in the area. At its May 10 Town Board meeting, Olive amended its town code to require all eligible short-term rentals to be registered and permit applications filed by August 29. Failure to obtain a permit may result in fines.
“The code evolved over time, through a zoning committee and the town board and it was generally geared toward favoring full-time residents in the town and enables them to have to short-term rentals,” Olive Supervisor Jim Sofranko said.
Non-owner-occupied properties are limited to one short-term rental per year, provided they were operating for a year or longer. No new non-owner-occupied units will be permitted.There is no limit yet for owner-occupied short-term rentals, but the Town Board reserves the right to vote for a cap.
Sofranko said regulating short-term rentals and codifying accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which can include cottages or apartments above garages, will help increase long-term housing stock.
“About two years ago, we amended our code to recognize accessory dwelling units. We realized they existed in the town for decades, but they were never legally recognized in our code. So we decided to recognize them, and they have to meet building codes like any other dwelling,” Sofranko said.“We felt like seeing them opening up this housing market for apartments for accessory dwelling units, but yet, limiting the amount of short-term rentals could inevitably bring about more accessible housing from long-term rental units.
When it came time to look at short-term rentals, the town examined STR laws in other towns, taking what would work in Olive and modifying parts of other laws to fit.
It seems just the word of impending regulations has already made a difference.
“Anecdotally, just prior to us passing this code amendment, I had someone come up to me and thank me for someone who had gotten a job in the town and was looking for housing and was actually staying in someone’s bedroom in a house,” Sofranko said.“It was a nice mutual agreement, and they were looking for housing for months, and finally found a long-term rental in the town of Olive and the landlord told her that the reason she was renting it long-term was because of the forthcoming short-term rental law.”
The town has hired an additional inspector just to deal with short-term rentals. There are a number of health and safety regulations. Owners must post rules for guests and someone must be available within a 30-mile radius to respond to emergencies.
Sensitivity to water use
Much attention is paid to occupancy of each short-term rental unit because of the resources used.
“The reason we look at occupancy is that we live in the watershed. We’re very sensitive to water and wastewater issues in the watershed, so we want to make sure that the occupancy is set, and it’s what they’re advertising on their short-term rental platform,” Sofranko said.“A lot of times, they’ll have a two-bedroom house, and they’ll say ‘eight people, pull-out couch, blow-up mattress,’ and what we’re hesitant about is that the vast amount of water use in a short period of time between not only the occupants during the time they rented, but the cleanup the next day uses a tremendous amount of water.”
Information about Olive’s short-term rentals including fire and safety inspection fees, the application and rules is available at https://townofolive.org/building-zoning.