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Legislature Encourages the State Study Issues Related to Short-Term Online Rental Services

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Legislature Encourages the State Study Issues Related to Short-Term Online Rental Services

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

After hearing a presentation from Tompkins County Tourism Coordinator Tom Knipe, the Legislature passed a resolution encouraging New York State to study and address issues related to the growth in short-term online rental services, such as Airbnb.  The vote was 10-3, with Legislators Carol Chock, Kathy Luz Herrera, and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne voting no. 

The measure notes that such short-term online rental platforms, through which individual homeowners and renters host paying guests for short-term overnight stays, has grown significantly in the past several years, and that Tompkins County “wishes to help ensure a level playing field” for all legal lodging operators, and ensure public health and safety, support enforcement of local municipal building and zoning code.  The County, it notes, has informed local hosts using the online platforms of the County room occupancy tax law and facilitated the registration process.  The Legislature asks the State to explore the issue in depth and explore possible State legal and regulatory actions to support upstate governments in efforts to enforce existing law, collect hotel room occupancy taxes, and ensure compliance with existing health and safety regulations.

Both Legislators Chock and Luz Herrera called the action premature, since they said local efforts to work with hosts using such platforms have produced good results so far.  But both Economic Development Committee Chair Will Burbank and Legislator Martha Robertson said the issue is greater than Tompkins County and that study is needed beyond the local level.  The measure also encourages the New York State Association of Counties, the New York Association of Towns, and the New York Conference of Mayors to take up the issue in 2015.