This week, the Town of Callicoon passed an ordinance requiring property owners in the town who want to rent out their houses / guesthouses on a short term basis (i.e. AirBnB) to get a permit. The idea isn’t to limit or ban the ability of owners do rent short term, but rather for public safety — that premises being rented out meet code requirements for safe habitation. This probably won’t have a big impact on people who rent out their houses, beyond doing some paperwork, paying a fee and getting a visit from the code enforcement officer. But it will likely have an impact on people who rent out a secondary structure on their property that may not have been built or converted with a permit or was built with a permit for another use (i.e. studio or workshop rather than for living/sleeping.) Unfortunately, I can’t find the ordinance online to find out more specifics. (Note: the Town of Callicoon is not the same as the hamlet of Callicoon, which is in the Town of Delaware.) But the bottom line is that chicken coop you converted to a guest house on the down low without a permit probably won’t pass muster.
It’s important to understand that this is not a ban on short term rentals, but rather a move by the Town of Callicoon to ensure that they’re safe. Given the exploding popularity of AirBnB, I expect other towns in Sullivan County will likely enact similar ordinances. This comes on the heels of the Town of Tusten working on a campground law to create zoning provisions for small “glamping” installs, where the owner of a property may want to construct a platform camping / glamping site for short term rentals.
Short term rentals have been part of the scene here for decades. But the number was relatively small, and most were primarily used as rentals rather than mainly owner used with an occasional rental here and there. AirBnB changed that, particularly among younger urbanites who pick up extra cash renting out their city apartments when they’re away. They also use AirBnB when they travel, so it’s become part of the lifestyle landscape. They bring that mentality with them to a country house. One of the most common questions I get from buyers in their 30’s is “Can we rent this out when we’re not using it?” I rarely got that question five years ago. It’s the same thing with “glamping” — the concept didn’t really exist five years ago.
When trends catch on, it can take time for government entities to adapt and adjust. Kudos to the towns of Callicoon and Tusten to work to adapt to these trends with public safety in mind, rather than crush them.