State pursues short-term rental regulations

A proposed state law would require online short term rental website to remit a bed tax.

Amanda Purcell Columbia-Greene Media April 11, 2019 10:08 pm

HUDSON — A proposed state law would regulate and tax short-term vacation rentals.

State Sen. James Skoufis, D-39, and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, D-50, announced Wednesday the introduction of proposed legislation, which would provide for the “taxation, regulation and accountability for New York’s growing home-sharing industry,” according to a statement from the two lawmakers.

The bill is in response to vacationers and visitors who are increasingly rely on online home-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, as a more inexpensive and versatile option than hotels and bed & breakfasts.

“Our bill seeks to acknowledge that home-sharing is here to stay in 2019, so let’s tax and regulate it in such a way that everyone can benefit and the industry is held accountable,” Skoufis said in a statement.

The bill would mostly affect short-term rentals in New York City, and includes a mandatory insurance and a registry for rentals there.

Statewide, the bill would authorize online platforms like Airbnb to collect and remit occupancy taxes from guests statewide. Airbnb already collects and remits county bed taxes on behalf of hosts in 20 counties across the state. Columbia and Greene counties are not among the counties on the list.

Until now, the burden has been on local communities to regulate short-term rentals as a way to level off shrinking rental housing markets.C

Catskill

The Village of Catskill is in the midst of taking a hard look at its rental housing shortage after an influx of short-term vacation rentals.

Village Board President Vincent Seeley would not have a problem with a state law regulating and collecting taxes on tourists using short-term rentals while staying in Catskill.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea as long as the tax revenue goes back into tourism,” Seeley said. “We are setting an ‘Airbnb meeting’ in Catskill to discuss our rental property shortage and the best way to get in front of this.”

The meeting will be held in May at a location and time to be determined.

The goal of the meeting is twofold, Seeley said.

“One to get a better understanding of the inventory of places,” he said. “Two, to understand what types of visitors are they getting? Business travelers? Hikers? Visiting family? This information will help us build a better visit for their guests.”

Hudson

Hudson has a 4% lodging tax for visitors who use short-term rentals.

The city’s lodging tax, which was passed in 2017, requires operators of short-term rentals for less than 30 days — including those renting through the websites Airbnb and VRBO — to register with the city clerk, who would collect a 4 percent tax from visitors, part of which would be used to promote tourism in Hudson.

The city will re-examine how it will use the revenue from the tax after some members of the public expressed concerns about using the funds solely for marketing Hudson, which already sees a high number of tourists, said 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, who chairs the Legal Committee of the Common Council.

Common Council attorney Andy Howard drafted an amended law that will send collected taxes to a designated fund within the general fund to be expended at the pleasure of the Common Council, the way any other money is spent in the city, Common Council president Thomas DePietro said Monday at the monthly informal Common Council meeting.

The modification does not have to go through the state, Howard said at the meeting. But a public hearing will be held on the amended law, DePietro said.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.

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