Listing your upstate home on Airbnb might draw frowns from neighbors but usually not public criticism — unless you were a politician who vehemently opposed short-term rentals in the past.
Rebecca Wolff, a former member of Hudson’s Common Council, started a scandal in the Hudson Valley city by listing her home on Airbnb, the Times Union reported. Wolff fought against short-term rentals for part-time residents during her political tenure, which went from 2020 to 2022.
Wolff listed her home on Airbnb in January for $200 a night. She required guests to stay a minimum of two nights.
Hudson passed a law limiting short-term rentals to no more than 60 days a year and only if the homeowner lives in Hudson for at least 50 days. Wolff was a champion of the measure, according to the Times Union.
So when Wolff listed her home on Airbnb, critics called it hypocrisy. “She was demonizing anybody who would have a short-term rental,” said cafe owner Monica Byrne.
In her defense, Wolff said she only booked two guests before finding a permanent subletter. She has decamped to her parents’ second home to work on writing a book.
While Wolff recognized the poor optics of putting her home on Airbnb, she doesn’t seem to regret the decision, telling the Times Union, “I wasn’t going against anything I ever said. I never said nobody should ever be able to Airbnb.”
Short-term rentals have become a touchy subject in New York municipalities large and small. In upstate towns, where house prices have soared since the onset of the pandemic, residents have expressed concern about Airbnb customers moving in and out and taking away housing opportunities for locals.
Wolff herself once said vacation rentals were “corrosive to a community.” But others have noted the importance of tourism to the upstate economy and the shortage of hotels.
A number of towns have passed legislation to curb short-term rentals, such as by requiring permits or a minimum stay of two weeks. The Town of Red Hook is now weighing a law requiring all short-term rentals to get a permit and be restricted to primary residences.
[Times Union] — Holden Walter-Warner