Roslyn Estates board proposes heavy fines for short-term rentals

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The Roslyn Estates village board discussed a proposed law to implement heavy fines for short-term rentals at Wednesday's meeting. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

The Roslyn Estates village board proposed a local law at Wednesday’s meeting that would impose fines on short-term rentals to prevent the use of Airbnb, a popular online marketplace typically used for weekend getaways.

Homeowners may be subject to fines of up to $75,000 if they choose to rent out their home to any person or entity for less than four months.

The issue arose when the board was contacted by a potential home-buyer interested in purchasing a home in the village for the intention of renting it on Airbnb.

Trustee Brett Auerbach, who suggested the high fines for short-term rentals, emphasized that revenue-gaining actions like the use of Airbnb warrant a larger fine than other town violations, such as maintaining one’s landscape.

He said he worried that too small of a penalty could be written off as a business expense.

Trustee Stephen Fox questioned whether four months was too long.

“Are we trying to prevent somebody from renting their home for the entire summer,” Fox said, “because that is a different question than trying to ban Airbnbs.”

Members of the board expressed interest in adding a provision to allow exemptions for renters experiencing financial hardship.

The potential law will be introduced at next month’s meeting, along with further discussion on redefining trees in the village code.

Village officials are deliberating whether to require residents to replace dead trees cut down on their property.

Dead trees are not defined as trees under the village code, so only living trees need to be replaced by property owners.

The board is considering switching the measurement of trees to the use of calipers, which refers to the diameter of a tree’s trunk, from its current protocol of measuring the trunk’s circumference.

Auerbach raised concerns with the proposed language increasing the size requirement to exclude trees that are less than a 7-inch radius, which converts to 21 inches in circumference.

Presently, a homeowner needs a permit to cut down “any living tree over 10 inches in circumference” as defined by the village code.

“We’re letting a lot of smaller trees not be considered trees anymore,” Auerbach said.

The matter was postponed so the board can gain more clarification on the new measurements, echoing Auerbach’s apprehension to expose more trees to the risk of being cut down without replacement.

Both laws are expected to be submitted in September with a public hearing planned for October.

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