Hudson Valley officials open to stricter Airbnb vacation rental laws

The topic on everyone’s lips here and throughout the Hudson Valley is housing: where to find it, how expensive it is, will the bubble ever burst? Rising prices and shrinking inventory generated by the early pandemic exodus of New York City residents have been borne forward by rising interest rates, supply-chain issues and a transformation in how Americans work, making what once seemed like a temporary, localized bubble into a long – term affordable housing issue.

Housing is partly an issue of supply, and from January 2020 to April 2022, the number of available homes on the market in the Mid-Hudson Valley declined by 63 percent, according to a recent report by the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.

The rise of short-term rentals listed on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo in a region heavily dependent on tourism has exacerbated that problem. A recent estimate by For the Many, an activist group for progressive political causes, concluded that approximately two-thirds of available housing in Kingston is taken up by short-term rentals, according to data from and AirDNA, a short-term rental data site. In Newburgh, the number was 58 percent; in Poughkeepsie, 50 percent.

“These short-term rentals keep valuable housing assets off the market for local residents and hollow out working-class neighborhoods by turning housing into hotels,” said Evan Menist, Poughkeepsie Common Council majority leader. “We must use all of the tools at our disposal to combat the housing crisis, and making sure that existing housing stock is available for existing residents is a huge priority to make that happen.”

To that end, Menist is among several local elected officials who have come out in support of a new campaign by For the Many to regulate short-term rentals in several key cities throughout the Hudson Valley, including Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Newburgh, Kingston and New Paltz. Billed as “Homes Are Not Hotels,” the group announced the campaign surrounded by local officials at a news conference Thursday in Newburgh.

The campaign includes template legislation that outlines three policy goals:

  1. A comprehensive registration system that requires documented proof of primary residence;
  2. A complete ban on non-owner-occupied vacation rentals;
  3. A strong enforcement system so the municipality can hold both hosts and platforms accountable, with hefty fines for violations.

“Taking on greedy investors and giant tech companies like Airbnb won’t be easy, but this fight is necessary to help ensure that long-time Hudson Valley residents can stay in the communities they call home,” For the Many Executive Director Jonathan Bix said .

To shape the law, For the Many worked with short-term-rental regulation lawyers and partner organizations including Local Progress, the Coalition Against Illegal Hotels, and the watchdog site The group also coordinated with elected officials in some of the targeted municipalities that already have some form of short-term rental regulations on the books.

“They’re right on the money with what needs to be done,” said Beacon Councilman Dan Aymar-Blair. “Beacon’s short-term rental law checks a lot of boxes, but one it doesn’t is we allow single-family homes to be rented out 100 days a year. If there’s an area that needs tweaking in Beacon, it’s that.

“The enforcement piece is super important,” Aymar-Blair added. “We had our law in place for maybe a year and a half when someone checked and we had seven to eight Airbnbs registered.”

Beacon Council member Palome Wake says the Common Council has already taken steps to address enforcement by signing onto a county contract to hire a company that mines social-rental data. As that data comes in, the city will continue to update its regulations.

“The bottom line here is that we want our neighbors to be able to stay in their homes and communities, and also know that low- and fixed-income people are the ones struggling the most to do so in this skyrocketing housing market,” Wake said.

The city of Kingston also has some short-term rental regulations on the books, having adopted a resolution last year that amended the definition of “hotel” to align with Ulster County’s definition, which includes short-term rentals, so that they’re subject to the county hotel occupancy tax. (In May, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble announced new efforts to increase enforcement of the regulations.) The city also is in the process of implementing a form-based zoning code, which will include guidelines for short-term rentals, according to Summer Smith, Kingston’s communications director.

The village of New Paltz has had a rental registry for nearly a decade, which includes all long- and short-term rentals and mandates annual inspections, according to Deputy Mayor Alexandra Wojcik, and the village adopted further regulations last summer. The town of New Paltz also has a registry and is looking into further legislation. Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Torres said the town believes in the For the Many campaign’s “broader mission” and will be looking at its template legislation.

“Being able to strike the balance between acknowledging that Airbnb can have a positive economic impact in our communities while also realizing that some people have turned them into businesses that have greatly harmed our housing market — that can be done the right way or the wrong way and we’re trying to find that balance,” Torres said.

In Poughkeepsie, Menist is working with fellow Council member Megan Deichler on adopting For the Many’s legislation, and he expects to introduce it by the end of August. “Following the typical process, the bill could be passed as soon as the end of September and in effect before winter,” he said.

The highest-ranking municipal leader to signal his support so far is City of Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey. “This proposal will pass in the city of Newburgh with unanimous support,” he said.

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