Thursday, July 25, 2024

More replies to our Q&A on short-term rentals

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

The Chronicle Question of the Week to our digital subscribers on March 9 was: Have you ever stayed in an AirBnb or other short term rental? How was it? Do you think they’re good or bad for a community? Why?

So many responses flowed in that many didn’t make it in last issue.

The pluses and minuses

The ABNB was in Gatlinburg TN. It was amazing and unique at the base of a waterfall. It was the second one we rented as we rented one pre COVID, got postponed a year and the original rental was sold during COVID.

Short term rentals are good because often people buy cheap, refurbish and then rent which helps delinquent properties. Also renters are usually paying good money so they are clean, quiet folks. And no new kids for the schools.

My development in LL [Lake Luzerne] is selling to several ABNB companies, and the downside is lots of strangers and you don’t get to “know your neighbors.” Also I’m not sure about how ABNB are taxed. Bed tax? So I’m not sure if they help or hurt that part of a town.

— Janice Weeks, Lake Luzerne

Open to an outright ban

I have stayed in an AirBnb. I’ve stayed a couple times. They’re comfortable and usually quite convenient.

Unfortunately, they are being bought up by larger investors and have even displaced normal tenants in places like NYC and LA. A beautiful house on my road was purchased and converted into an AirBnb recently. Now I have to drive by their sign every morning and remember that even though we have a shortage of affordable housing in the area, we still have room for investors who don’t care about our community.

Not only do they take up housing for locals but when outside investors rent out these properties the money directly leaves our community. I wouldn’t be opposed to an outright ban on short-term rental properties.

— Dan, Lake George

Yes, continue allowing

Yes, I have stayed at Airbnb’s and we should continue to allow them. Airbnb’s give you access to stay with your family in a comfortable home that is usually cheaper than a hotel in your location of choice.

— Amy, Pilot Knob

No alternative in Alaska

My husband and I stayed in one in Willow, Alaska. In that area there are few options. In sparsely populated areas they are definitely needed.

— Anne Delcourt, Queensbury

Find the proper balance

My experiences with AirBnb/Vrbo have generally been positive, with both hosts and their management companies (some use those) focused on providing enjoyable stays.

I have stronger and more favorable memories about cities where I stayed in a short-term rental (versus hotel), Probably because I was more infused into the local environment.

There is, of course, a downside that short-term rentals present by pushing up the cost of housing for local residents. Affordable housing is a universal problem as is identifying ways to inject money into communities, so it may take some time — and work — to find the right balance.

— Larry, Bolton Landing

Good ‘local side business’

Having AirBnbs is great for someone wanting a local side business. However, I have tried to stay away from them lately due to the high fees that the company is pocketing. Also, the cleaning fees can be ridiculous.

— Victoria Leonard, Queensbury

AirBnb’s good, need rules

Yes, I have stayed at AirBnB’s. I think they are good for communities. Most people that use AirBnB are leisure travelers enjoying themselves and spending money. Strict rules limiting the amount of people, noise and respect to neighbors is paramount.

— Dawn McFarland,
Chestertown & Highland Mills, NY

Choice of returning alum

I grew up in the area (SGF class of ‘72), but moved away in 1977. Since then I’ve travelled back to the area to visit friends & family at least yearly. I love the option of using an Airbnb or VRBO for accommodations while in town. Have spent many hundreds at the Landmark Motel near my family, but that place has gone downhill….It is also very expensive. I gladly welcome new and affordable short-term rental accommodations.

— Vicki Martin, Fairview Heights, IL

She was doggone misled

Our first (only) experience with airbnb was January 2023. We booked 7 weeks in North Myrtle Beach after leaving 1+ month in FL where we’d gone for 12 + winters. Our SC trip was intended to let us explore the area for a winter 2023/24 extended winter stay which would be a change of scenery and easier mileage wise for us.

We arrived at the rental we’d booked in a residential golf community with a short walk to the beach. Airbnb and host Vacasa had advertised the 3 bedroom/2 bath home allowing up to 4 dogs. We arrived with our 70 pound Black Lab and we loved the home!

In the morning, we walked Lager and met several owners who informed us that owners could have 2 dogs but renters could not have dogs. I sent a message relaying that renters could not have dogs per HOA rules and they’d advertised 4 dogs (no weight limit) and we’d been sold an illegal rental.

A short time later, my phone rang and a man said, “you can stay, just tell them you have a service dog”! I went through the roof…we’ve owned beach and ski property and honesty is important. Late afternoon, we got a message to call immediately, the townhouse was no longer dog friendly and we had to leave.

They gave us the option of 20 other properties and EVERYONE was either a studio or a 1 bedroom — NONE had a kitchen and every dog weight limit was 20-40 pounds! OR we could get a full refund.

We stayed one more night with their permission (they told us the charge would be $77.00 for the first night and $62.00 for the second night – very fair). We left at 5:30 am – we were in VA when we got an emailed invoice for $1250 for our 2 night stay and eviction! We’d already paid $3800 for the first installment of our 7 week stay.

The financial battle began and I got credit but all except $500+. FINALLY last week, we walked with about a $52.00 credit and a $500 gift certificate from airbnb. We will use the gift certificate but we will never use airbnb again!

We have several on our road of 18 homes – the renters are fine but a couple of owners are irresponsible – one had a bear that got into his garbage last fall and it was there for 3.5 weeks – there were no means of enforcement. I don’t think our story is typical but if I want to gamble in the future, it will be in Vegas!

— Carolyn Hutchins, North Creek

Helped owner keep house

Stayed a week in Boulder, CO. Enjoyed contact with local resident. She needed air bnb money to keep house and survive. Yes, I think air Bnb is a good thing.

— Bob Rockwell, Glens Falls

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