West Hampton Dunes officials are considering abolishing the village law prohibiting short-term stays in seasonal rental properties.
The law in the East End beach community, enacted in 2013, applies to brokers and real estate professionals who work to rent properties in the village. Those rentals are limited to two weeks or longer, and no more than five seasonal rental permits are allowed per location in the same summer season.
The law took effect before online rental companies such as Airbnb were popular. Village trustee Barry Goldfeder, who proposed repealing the law at the June 23 board meeting, said residents and rental professionals have told him the limits give online rental companies an advantage by not also restricting the length of stay for those companies.
Goldfeder noted the short-term rentals booked online run the risk of attracting visitors who just want to have a party.
“It’s this whole underground economy out there that creates this unlevel playing field, which, in the long run, creates such a disruption and decreases the quality of life for so many homeowners that really only have 13 or 15 weeks to come and enjoy the beauty that this place offers up,” Goldfeder said.
Local brokers play an important role in screening for responsible tenants, Goldfeder said.
The West Hampton Dunes law requires summer rental property permit applications to be filed with the village clerk before the start of each season. There are currently 30 village rental permits on file, according to the building department. Airbnb recently had nine West Hampton Dunes properties listed for rent.
Goldfeder suggested the board also could look at replacing the time-limit law with regulations that featured stiffer fines for people violating rental restrictions such as those covering occupancy and use of the property.
Violators now pay $2,500 for a first offense, $3,500 for a second and $5,000 for the third violation, with each day of continued violations constituting a “separate and new violation.”
Goldfeder said he preferred a new village law to have fines as high as $10,000, which he felt would encourage rental owners to screen potential renters carefully.
Trustee Gary Trimarchi said he wouldn’t support abolishing the law, citing past issues that arose from short-term renters staying for a day or a weekend and throwing loud parties.
Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels said in a statement that while the company had not heard about the West Hampton Dunes proposal, the rentals it offers have benefited Long Island communities “not only through the income earned by hosts, but also through economic opportunity for local businesses who benefit from increased foot traffic.”
Other East End communities have passed laws to curb daily or weekend rentals. Shelter Island and Southold Town ban all rentals of less than two weeks. In 2013, the Riverhead Town Board approved a law that prohibited rentals of less than 30 days.
West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante called rental laws a “very passionate item” in the village, and said he expects a lot of discussion about modifying the existing law. The board is to hold a public hearing on the rental law issue at a later date.