Measure places greater responsibility on property owners
The Porter Town Board took action earlier this month to address the growing presence of short-term rental operations in the community.
Peter Jeffery, town building inspector/code enforcement officer, said Local Law No. 4 of 2023, approved by the board on Aug. 14, is an amended version of Chapter 200 in the town code with a new focus on short-term rentals. He said the town previously had an informational guide on its website covering short-term rentals, but that a greater response to manage them was needed with their growing popularity on such online forums as Airbnb.com, Vrbo.com, Zumper.com or apartments.com.
“The Town Board put together a committee that met and discussed multiple options,” Jeffery said.
He said a working group was developed that consisted of two members each from the Town Board, Porter’s Zoning and Planning boards, and two members from the community.
“The committee chose not to go too significant on what stipulations were going to be implemented,” Jeffery said.
Instead, he said the new Porter measure expands on that earlier rental guide and now puts a greater responsibility on the property owner.
Key elements of the law include:
•The “Occupancy of single-family, residential premises for a term of no more than 30 days, on two or more occasions during a six-month period. Occupancy shall not exceed two people for each bedroom, plus two additional occupants. On-site parking as otherwise required by the Town of Porter Zoning Law shall be provided.”
•The measure calls on the property owner to abide by all laws and ordinances related to the maintenance of single-family homes. These include, but are not limited to, “providing wastewater treatment facilities, fire protection systems, compliance with building maintenance rules and compliance with noise ordinances.”
It identifies Jeffery as the town’s code enforcement officer as a person authorized by law to enforce provisions of this law and other town ordinances.
•With respect to penalties, the law states, “In the event of three or more convictions/confirmed violations during any twelve-month period, any fines provided in the zoning law shall be doubled.
•“Property owners renting their single-family homes on a short-term rental basis are responsible to collect any bed or occupancy taxes which may be imposed by state or local municipalities.”
•As to registration of a short-term rental the measure specifies, “a local property manager shall be identified and their contact information provided. The local property manager shall be authorized by the owner of record to male determinations regarding all aspects of the property.” The manager should be a resident of the U.S., live within 30 miles of the rental parcel, and be available on a 24 hours per day, seven days a week, to answer any concerns.
•It specifies, “Short Term rental operators shall have a Hold Harmless Agreement duly executed with the Town of Porter, as approved by the Town’s Attorney and filed with the Town Clerk’s office. The Code Enforcement Officer is to maintain a current listing of all registered Short Term Rental properties and their required registration documentation.
•“Enforcement of these stipulated requirements shall be per the currently adopted Zoning Code Enforcement and Zoning Code penalties’ respective code sections. Failure to register a Short-Term rental operation shall constitute a violation of the Zoning Code.”
With passage of its new law, Porter now joins a number of communities in Buffalo Niagara that have taken action or are considering a response to short-term rentals. Ordinances are on the books in the municipalities such as City of Buffalo, the Town of Grand Island with a law enacted in 2015, and the City of Niagara Falls with a law approved in June 2022. The Town of Niagara approved its local law in December 2022 and the Village of Lewiston approved its own measure in January of 2023.
Currently, the Town of Lewiston has a moratorium covering short-term rentals, while its Town Board reviews the matter further. Others such as the village and town of Wilson currently have no such laws, and discussions continue in the Village of Youngstown on creating a measure.
For more information on the new law, visit www.townofporter.net or contact Jeffery at 716-745-3730.