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Hempstead supervisor proposes ban on Airbnb, other rentals

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino (left) proposes a

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino (left) proposes a ban on short-term rentals. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino on Monday proposed banning short-term rentals in the town’s unincorporated areas, making Hempstead one of the latest municipalities to consider regulating a growing industry on Long Island.

Santino suggested prohibiting rentals of fewer than 28 days, and also proposed creating a new registry and permit program for all rentals over 28 days, with a few exceptions.

The proposed short-term rental ban is aimed at residents who rent their homes out through websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and Home Away. Santino announced the legislation Monday at a news conference at the Rock Hall Museum in Lawrence with Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and councilmen Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne.

The town board is to vote on Tuesday to schedule a July 11 public hearing on the issue.

“These types of rentals are threatening the character of our residential communities, while also raising serious health and safety concerns,” Santino said. He said properties may not have enough smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or proper exits and entrances. The proposed law, which would not apply to incorporated villages within the town, would carry a $1,000 fine for first-time violators, Santino said.

The town’s South Shore communities are often popular for short-term rentals, but Santino said homes near the Nassau Coliseum often show up on the websites, which town officials would monitor for offenders. Santino said the legislation seeks to curtail absentee landlords from operating bed-and-breakfasts or motels on residential streets and renting out properties to people who aren’t “good neighbors.”

Santino said the town has been “flooded with complaints” about short-term rentals in residential areas.

“People should not be operating a business on a residential street,” he said.

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney said she has been calling for a short-term rental ban after hearing complaints from residents in her district, which includes Lido Beach.

“Everyone tells me the same thing: We must put a stop to these short-term rentals,” she said in a statement.

The town’s proposed home-rental registry and permit program, which would cover any rentals over 28 days such as year-round leases, includes a $500 fee for an initial two-year permit and a $450 renewal fee. The costs would cover administrative processes and building department inspections. Mother-daughter and senior-accessory apartments would not be subject to the proposed rental permit program because they are already subject to other building department regulations.

The five East End towns and the Town of Islip restrict short-term rentals, though Islip’s law does not apply on Fire Island. The Huntington Town Board is to vote next month on two resolutions to limit short-term rentals, and Sea Cliff is considering similar measures.

In April, San Francisco-based Airbnb Inc., described on its website as a community marketplace for accommodations, reported 2,400 Long Island hosts rented out rooms, houses or apartments in 2016, up from 1,500 in 2015. Airbnb charges hosts a service fee of between 3 percent and 5 percent, according to its website.

In an email Monday, Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels did not provide the number of hosts in Hempstead Town, but said the website has 23 host listings in Hempstead Village.

“We hope that the town considers the overwhelmingly positive impact of home sharing before restricting a growing economic engine that brings visitors to local businesses and allows Hempstead families to earn some extra money,” Schottenfels wrote.

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