A Livonia resident informed the Town Board that the neighboring rental home allows up to 22 people to reside in it.
Homeowners noted that safety issues surrounding parking, garbage disposal, and other major lifestyle concerns were not being addressed.
Moreover, she added, both Air B&B and VRBO rentals on Conesus Lake have dramatically increased over the past few years — infringing on the enjoyment of neighboring long-term residences.
The Livonia Town Board told the residents they had a law already drafted but had not approved it. No date as to when or if it would be approved.
According to the Livingston County Planning Board, no towns around Conesus Lake have short-term rental regulations. Meanwhile, short-term rentals have increased dramatically. A lot of homeowners are upset with the transient, late night, partying vacationers. They believe short-term rentals are businesses and should be regulated as such.
Both Ontario and Livingston counties have most of their Air B&B rentals in their most densely populated lakeside residential districts.
In Ontario County, the Town of Canadice passed a comparatively lenient short-term rental law that placed a limit of 12 renters per house. Moreover, the premises must be inspected by a zoning officer prior to rental. Permits can be revoked if landlords don’t abide by the updated law.
Meanwhile Ontario’s Town of Canandaigua has a stricter short-term rental law particularly in areas largely residentially zoned. Moreover, a special use permit is required which costs a $220 application fee, a 12% transient occupancy tax, and an additional 2% enforcement fee. Non-hosted rentals are capped at 90 days per year. They also have a rental property registry, and an initial zoning inspection.
Geneva updated in 2020 its short-term rental law. According to then Supervisor Mark Venuti in 2020, “At that time people asked us to ban rentals. We can’t do that, but we can regulate it. We were hearing from neighbors who were constantly disturbed by renters, and couldn’t get owners to respond.”
One main requirement is that property owners must live locally for seven months out of the year, to ensure that the rentals are properly supervised.
The Town of Richmond is one of the Ontario County lake towns who do not have short-term rental regulations, nor are they planning one. According to zoning officer Spencer Shumway, “we’ve talked about it off and on, but I can’t say there are plans to have a short-term rental law…. There are about 75 of these on the lake, but not all short-term rentals are on the lake…and yes, people tell us they had great neighbors for a week, and then the next week, maybe not…and our short-term rentals are not all summer…some people rent to go to Bristol or Swain or skiing, but overall, there’s not a lot of problems…for us, the big problem would be staffing if we did do this (have a short-term rental law). If we passed some sort of short-term rental law, it would take a lot of manpower and a lot of expense to inspect all these places, keep records on them…and we’re just not equipped right now to do that.”
In all the Finger Lake towns, some would argue these short-term rental properties are homes, and as such, should not be regulated any more than homes. Others suggest that short-term rentals change neighborhoods, impede neighbors’ enjoyment of their own property, and often become a problem for neighbors with parking infringements, extra noise, overpopulation of a single home, etc. and ask their towns to declare them businesses instead of homes, and regulate or ban the short-term rental businesses with the planning board and zoning officers, just as any other kind of business, in residential neighborhoods have to be approved,
Towns are divided on whether or not they should have regulations, and lawsuits have popped up challenging local government’s rights to establish laws concerning short term rentals. In Skaneateles, NY, on Onondaga Lake, the village board voted to ban all short-term rentals in the village, wanting to retain the “small town” atmosphere of the village, and wanting to save money by not having to have the manpower to efficiently handle the inspections for short-term rentals, record-keeping and associated costs of the short-term rentals. The village sent cease and desist letters to the 31 owners of the short term rentals already in operation. The landlords argued their properties were being devalued if they couldn’t rent them after the cut-off date, but they complied with the new law. However, one short term rental landlord who owned three short-term rental properties decided to sue, but the village board’s decision on the short term rental ban was upheld by the state appellate court. In Grand Island, Wallace vs. Grand Island, the courts also upheld the right of towns wanting to establish bans on short-term rentals in certain areas, and their right not to give variances in those residential zones.
The laws in each town across the state vary greatly, and some don’t even define the term “short term rental,” as either a business or a residence, causing a dilemma of how to handle these new short-term rentals, which were generally unheard of five years ago, as people generally stayed in motels and hotels if staying for just a few days; and residences were generally rented by the house or year. Those who own the properties, particularly those who purchase them, need to ensure they are aware of the laws in the community in which they buy short-term rentals, knowing that laws and regulations differ from one community to the next, and can change as town and village boards (whose members also fluctuate) grapple with the changing face of renting, since the emergence and popularity of short-term rental internet agencies.