At a recent Steuben County Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors voted to propose an amendment to a 1987 law to include properties that are rented for 30 days or less online, as well as through a realtor.
There will be a public comment period before February 27, before the proposal is voted into law. In 1987, the board started collecting an “occupancy” tax from hotels and motels, virtually the only places to rent for less than 30 days. But since the advent of Air B &B, Vrrbo, and realtor rentals, many hotels are losing business to these other types of rentals, which do not have to charge or pay an occupancy tax.
If passed after the February public comment period ends, the proposal, according to the minutes of the meeting, would not only continue to place an occupancy tax on the hotels as previously but also on “bed and breakfasts, motels, motor courts, boarding houses, inns, cabins, condominiums, cottages, campgrounds, lodges, tourist homes, apartments, convention centers, bungalows, and vacation rentals.” Placing a tax on these other types of buildings rented for less than 30 days would bring in much-needed extra revenue to Steuben County, as well as eliminate some of the allegedly unfair pricing competition to the hotels, which have historically been more expensive for renters because hotels are required by law to pay the occupancy tax to the county, and to have safety standards such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers, an on-premises employee to handle situations, etc. which not all homes, cottages, and vacation rentals currently have.
The new law would apply the occupancy tax to the other types of housing whether the property owner is renting the property directly to a tenant for less than 30 days or has gone through a real estate agency or agency such as Vrbo and Air B&B to rent.