Airbnb battle in Hudson Valley town heats up

Town of Red Hook proposing short-term rental regulations

Robert McKeon, town supervisor, Town of Red Hook (The Town of Red Hook New York, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Robert McKeon, town supervisor, Town of Red Hook (The Town of Red Hook New York, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

A small town in the Hudson Valley is serving as a microcosm for the larger question of government intervention into short-term rentals.

The Town of Red Hook is weighing a debate over imposing more regulations on the short-term rental market, which would affect Airbnb hosts in the area, the Times Union reported. The town recently proposed a law requiring all short-term rentals to register for a permit and restrict the rentals to primary residences.

Homeowners who receive a permit — for a fee — could either rent out an accessory dwelling unit or their primary residence.

Under the proposed law, short-term rentals in residential areas would be allowed for up to 30 days at a time, according to the Times Union. Outside of residential areas, there would be no limit for the duration of a short-term rental stay.

Supporters of the proposed law have expressed concern about the character of the town. Opponents, however, reportedly believe there is no problem without the law and want to ensure there are enough short-term rentals available for visitors, who could in turn fuel the rest of the local economy.

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“We haven’t found any evidence that short-term rentals are eroding the neighborhoods,” said Kristina Dousharm, chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Town Supervisor Robert McKeon reportedly disagreed, instead claiming the legislation would help curb people from coming in from out of town and turning properties into short-term rentals before disappearing.

Red Hook is just one in a slew of upstate New York towns that are weighing similar debates about short-term rentals, the Times Union noted.

Woodstock is issuing a limited number of permits for short-term rentals. Rhinebeck issues 15 permits per year through a lottery system and limits stays to 16 days. The Town of Milan also mandates the use of primary residences, though 90 day stays are allowed as long as there’s a break between rentals.

However, the need for short-term rentals could be felt acutely in Red Hook. The town’s proximity to Bard College means opportunity for residents to host families and prospective students. There’s also only one commercial lodging business in Red Hook — and it’s closed for renovations.

The Times Union reported that a town board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14, when the public hearing period closes. No date for a vote on the legislation has been set.

[Times Union] — Holden Walter-Warner