By Mary Brophy Moore
I am frustrated with the booming trend in the Adirondacks, including the town of Webb, where local family homes in once stable neighborhoods are being bought out by townspeople looking to make a jackpot on them. short term rentals.
As a resident since 1986, I have seen the housing market steadily increase in terms of new construction and values. In the early 2000s, especially after 9/11, there was a surge in the number of neighborhood houses being bought by locals, likely to have a place to escape the cities and feel safe. This created “dark” spots in neighborhoods that were previously open year round. But the inhabitants at least knew who their neighbors were even if their presence was sporadic. A direct result of the demand has been a significant increase in property values ââwhich has led to the current housing crisis in which residents cannot afford their own homes and fewer quality long term rental units are available. available.
The most recent trend is where homes are purchased primarily for rental purposes, either to help pay the mortgage and taxes on a property used as an occasional second home or to use them only for rental purposes. . In the meantime, this worsens the near-impossible housing situation for residents who do not already own a home, even though the new non-local owners operate rental businesses with virtually no regulation or oversight of any kind.
Threats to our once stable neighborhoods continue to escalate as a result of this trend. Many residents live near homes where different people live every week or weekend. There have been numerous reports of overcrowding and loud tenants. Of course, many tenants are considerate of their neighbors, but may stay in houses that are in poor condition or are too small for the number of people who live there.
In addition to these conditions, local motel, hotel, and cabin rental businesses are subject to regulations and fees that short-term housing owners are not. This amounts to unfair competition.
The short-term rental situation, as it contributes to the lack of affordable long-term housing, has hampered efforts to attract new families to the area. In fact, individuals and families are leaving the city in search of affordable properties.
In my opinion, the city needs to enact bylaws designed to protect residents as well as protect tenants from threats to the safety of people. They should also help ease pressure on municipal services, including water, sewage, garbage collection and emergency services, as well as try to level the playing field for established hotel businesses. There should be an authorization mechanism where those who rent primarily for profit and spend little or no time occupying the residence are subject to substantial fees, including violation fees. When owners have little interest in the welfare of the community, there must be real consequences. Others who are just trying to afford to keep their homes, especially those that have been in the family for generations, should be exempt from fees (barring violations) but be subject to regular inspections and limits on the number of tenants. . Our purely residential areas should benefit from additional protection in the form of limits on rental conditions such as no more than one group of tenants per week. Perhaps in addition to these regulations, given that too many long-term rental units have been converted to short-term housing, the city could give tax breaks to landlords who rent to local tenants in the city. long term.
Of course, regulation is only part of the solution to our housing situation, but it is necessary. Similar regulations are successful in other Adirondack communities, especially where enforcement is adequate. Good, rigorous enforcement practices are essential to make everything work.
Our city council has been working on these issues but seems blocked by objections from some who are renting out their properties. The stability of the neighborhood and the safety of visitors should be the top priorities of our leaders and action must be taken as soon as possible.
– Mary Brophy-Moore lives Thendara, New York
Photos at the top, taken around Old Forge, show many “for rent” signs, but the vast majority advertise short-term vacation rentals. Photos of Jamie Organski