Kensington passes laws to fight short term rentals

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Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin and Deputy Mayor Darren Kaplan discuss the new laws with residents. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin and Deputy Mayor Darren Kaplan discuss the new laws with residents. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Kensington village trustees adopted a pair of laws to curtail short-term rentals on Thursday night, describing it as a way to protect residents in a small village characterized by single-family homes.

One law explicitly sets a six-month minimum for rent, forbids homeowners from renting only part of the house and requires the owner to register for a permit to rent.

The other law defines a “dwelling” as a structure designed for and used as a home for no more than one family and considers a “family” as one or more people related by blood, adoption or marriage, and non-married couples.

Mayor Susan Lopatkin speaks with residents about what prompted the new laws. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Mayor Susan Lopatkin speaks with residents about what prompted the new laws. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Mayor Susan Lopatkin said trustees had grown concerned by the rise of Airbnb, a marketplace advertising short-term lodging, and reports of “strangers with suitcases” entering the village.

“This is not intended to be a revenue generation measure at all,” Lopatkin said, noting she hopes to have a “nominal” fee established for permits. “This is simply a safety measure to know who is right here in the village.”

“The intent is not to discriminate in any way, shape, or form in terms of selection of a partner, but the intent is to define a family so that people have a basis of being in the same home,” Lopatkin also said. “It’s not simply economics.”

Deputy Mayor Darren Kaplan, who authored the bill, said the measure is based on laws already existent in the Town of North Hempstead and other Nassau County villages.

Kaplan also said another motivator was the Brokaw Lane house fire near Great Neck North High School last year, which was used as an illegal rental and cited for “a whole host of violations” by the Village of Great Neck.

Deputy Mayor Darren Kaplan answers a question about the new regulations on short term rentals. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

“So we’re extremely concerned about the possibility of somebody renting out a house and it not being code compliant, because we have a lot of houses here that are pre-code and are very old,” Kaplan said.

The minimum penalty is set for $1,000, with each week’s continued non-compliance counting as an additional violation.

An exception will also be carved out for sale and leasebacks, Kaplan said. This involves a homeowner selling a home, but having it leased back to them for a temporary period of time.

In unrelated business, trustees and residents welcomed Melissa McComb as the village’s new clerk-treasurer, following the unexpected death of Arlene Giniger earlier this year. Anna Nardiello was hired for McComb’s former position of deputy clerk.

“So I can report we are back in business,” Lopatkin said.

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