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Islip continues to deal with short-term rental complaints

Julie Hession, of Bayport, seen here on Aug.

Julie Hession, of Bayport, seen here on Aug. 28, 2015, is among the Islip residents who have complained to the town about the impact of short-term rentals on their neighborhood. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The Islip Town effort against short-term rentals continues, more than a year after a ban was put into place and with properties still listed on popular websites for nightly stays.

It became illegal on Dec. 15, 2015, to rent properties in the mainland part of Islip Town for less than 14 consecutive nights. The ban was a result of months of complaints lodged by residents about properties listed on websites like Airbnb that they said impacted on their quality of life and raised safety concerns.

Under the law, violations for first offenses range from a $750 minimum fine up to $2,500; for a second offense, $2,500 to $5,000; and for a third offense, $5,000-$10,000, said Islip Town Attorney John R. DiCioccio.

Fire Island, which attracts visitors from all over the world each summer and has properties facing both the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, was the only part of the town exempt from this law.

Bayport resident Julie Hession was one of a group of neighbors who live on a cul-de-sac whose complaints to the town in the summer of 2015 prompted the rental ban. They told town officials that weddings and parties held in a rental home near them caused congestion on their streets. They also complained about noise from loud music and all-night parties.

Hession said that while the loud parties and weddings have since ceased, she continues to see the effects on their quiet street from bridal parties and families coming and going after a weekend stay.

“I’ve been kind of handling it myself,” Hession said. “I’ll go out there and tell the people that they can’t park on the street.”

DiCioccio said the town’s approach to enforcement is a complaint-based system, in which the municipality’s 18 investigators check out grievances as they come in. The town will continue with that approach.

Last year, the town received 35 complaints for rental occupancy permit violations, according to statistics provided by Caroline Smith, an Islip Town spokeswoman. The town issued 246 rental occupancy permit violations, some of which were for short-term-rental properties, she said.

Property owners wishing to rent out units are required to apply for a rental permit and are obligated to sign an affidavit stating that they will use the permit in conformance with town code, DiCioccio said.

Other municipalities across Long Island have enacted similar bans, including Southold Town, which in July 2015, made illegal all rentals of less than 14 nights. Violators there face up to $15,000 fines for multiple offenses.

Peter Schottenfels, a spokesman for Airbnb, said when hosts sign up to use the site, a disclaimer is issued to make sure they check and adhere to the laws where they live.

“I think it’s a very big issue and they don’t know how to handle it,” Hession said about the town’s enforcement. “This is not just this area. It’s all over the place. It’s everywhere. Has anyone come up with a remedy that works?”

Islip’s short-term rental ban

Required rental permit cost: $250, valid for two years

In 2016: 1,336 rental permits issued

Fines for violations:

First offense: $750-$2,500

Second offense: $2,500-$5,000

Third offense: $5,000-$10,000

Source: Islip Town attorney and town spokeswoman


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