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Airbnb, other websites would be impacted by Islip ban plan

Supervisor Angie Carpenter, left, and Councilwoman Trish Bergin

Supervisor Angie Carpenter, left, and Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt listen at a town board hearing on the proposal to ban short-term rentals in Islip on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015: The board voted unanimously to adopt the code. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

The Islip Town Board on Tuesday unanimously passed an amendment to the town code that bans short-term rentals of less than 14 consecutive days.

No one from the audience spoke during the public hearing that was held shortly after 2 p.m. at Town Hall. The board members, without discussion, moved quickly to adopt the town code with a 5-0 vote.

The ban comes after several months of complaints by town residents, who say the surging popularity of websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway — which allow users to connect with renters to lease a room in a private residence or the entire residence itself for as little as a one-night stay — has wreaked havoc on their quiet neighborhoods.

Several other Long Island municipalities have been grappling recently with this issue, including Bellport Village and Southold Town. On July 14, Southold passed a measure similar to the one being considered in Islip, making all rentals for less than 14 nights illegal, according to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. Hefty fines for scofflaws can go up to $15,000 for second and subsequent offenses, he said.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote there were no rental length restrictions. The ban now includes a definition of a “transient rental property,” which would be considered “a rental dwelling occupied as a home or residence by persons other than the owner or a family member of the owner” and where rent is paid to the owner for a rental period of less than 14 nights.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter addressed the issue at a town board meeting on Aug. 25 after residents complained that the high turnover rate of a short-term rental on Morgan Lane in Bayport was leaving their street and homes by the Great South Bay subject to car overcrowding, loud music and noise from parties well into the late night hours. As of last week, the waterfront home is still active on Airbnb’s website at $490 a night.

“The Town Board of the Town of Islip has determined that, with the advent of the internet-based ‘for rent by owner’ services, there has been a dramatic increase in residential homes being rented for short periods of time, often only a weekend,” according to the public hearing notice. “The Town Board finds that such transient rentals threaten the residential character and quality of life of neighborhoods in which they occur.”

Islip Town officials, in planning for these proposed changes, faced a particular challenge in that its mainland South Shore neighborhoods and its Fire Island communities have hundreds of waterfront properties facing the Great South Bay or the Atlantic Ocean, making them prime summertime vacation destinations. Those homes are also very attractive on the rental market during peak summer months.

Fire Island, which has for years made its appeal in part on its exclusivity for short-term summer share rentals, will not be subject to this new law, said Islip Town Attorney Robert Cicale.

The law will go into effect 10 days from the date it is filed.

Islip’s short-term rental proposal

  • Would ban short-term rentals for less than 14 consecutive nights
  • Designed to combat noise, high turnover rates in residential neighborhoods
  • Would not apply to Fire Island properties
  • Town says sites like Airbnb, HomeAway contribute to influx of short-term rentals, particularly in waterfront communities
  • If passed, code goes into effect 10 days from filing

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