On August 1, 2019

Short term rental regulations draw concerns from homeowners

By Curt Peterson

Killington Planning Commission members were surprised by the large attendance at their July 24 meeting.

People showed up out of concern of short term rental regulations.

“The Planning Commission wasn’t even going to discuss short-term rentals at this regular monthly meeting but the news that a draft [proposal] exists traveled fast and we had to give people a chance to be heard,”  Interim Zoning Officer Preston Bristow said.

A short-term rental is defined as a property rented for less than 30 days—most often by the weekend or the week.

A new proposal would require short term rentals to be compliant with zoning, inform insurance providers of rental status, satisfy state Fire Safety Inspection and have sufficient water supply and wastewater treatment systems to handle an authorized number of occupants in each unit. The town would know how many short term rental units there are and be confident that safety and health accommodations are adequate.

Asked about any cost to landlords, Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth said the commission talked about $200 per year per unit, which would be meant to cover all costs to the town of handling short term rentals and enforcing health and safety requirements, but they haven’t nailed down an amount.

“This isn’t about raising revenue, and it isn’t about burdening short term rental owners—it’s purely about health and safety,” he said.

Commission member Chris Karr said he is against a short term rental fee– other services and enforcement are covered by taxes, and Karr feels short term rentals should be treated the same way.

Commission chair David Rosenbloom said he was against charging a fee as well.

Many in the audience were short term rental owners with concerns about regulations that might reduce their income, make their properties worth less on the real estate market, or both. Relieved by Hagenbarth’s explanation, they were still leery about any new ordinance.

Yvonne Carla, who owns several short term rentals, said it was unfair that “one bad apple” had inspired regulation that would affect every short term rental owner,  referring to a landlord who is in court with Killington now over an overflowing septic system due to alleged over-occupancy of a short term rental.

“Is there a list of failed septic systems besides this one bad apple?” she asked Hagenbarth.

He told her there have only been two of which he is aware, and there is no formal list of failed systems.

short term rental owner Larry Ackerman asked if it was his problem if a property is found to be occupied by more people than allowed.

Rosenblum said, “If it’s a persistent problem, it’s probably a problem for you—if it’s just an odd event, then no.”

Commission member Vito Rasenas told Ackerman that some short term rental owners charge a deposit that is unreturnable if there are occupancy or behavior violations.

Rosenblum said the Commission will finalize a proposed regulation and pass it along to the Select Board. If they approve, there would be a public hearing to gather public reaction.

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