Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lawmakers pitch short-term rental bill as New York state budget negotiations continue in overtime

New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey
Michelle Hinchey/YouTube
Image capture by WAMC
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey

As negotiations continue in Albany over the late state budget, some lawmakers are seeking to include legislation that would regulate short-term rentals across New York.

“Hello everyone…”

State Senator Michelle Hinchey opened Tuesday’s press conference at the state capitol discussing her legislation to create a statewide registry of short-term rental properties.

“We are having a large conversation about a housing crisis. And a core component of the housing conversation is the short-term rental market,” said Hinchey.

Hinchey’s 41st Senate District includes much of the mid-Hudson region, where many communities have been experiencing sharp increases in housing prices.

Hinchey was joined by fellow Democrat Pat Fahy, whose 109th Assembly District includes the City of Albany. Fahy, now running for state Senate, said Hinchey is giving a boost to short-term rental legislation she introduced seven years ago.

“While we see estimates…there are some local registries, we do not have a firm grasp of exactly how many short-term rentals there are. And in those seven years, we have hit even more of a housing crisis,” said Fahy.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner’s 113th District includes the tourism hub of Saratoga Springs. The Democrat said the “summer place to be” welcomes nearly a million visitors a year.

Woerner said the home of Saratoga Race Course has more than 3,000 hotel rooms and about a thousand short-term rentals, as the city debates enacting its own regulations.

While vacation rentals have long been a part of the Saratoga Springs ecosystem, Woerner said the short-term rental market is pushing out housing opportunities for permanent residents.

“We are losing important housing stock to these short-term rentals. Try to find an affordable in Saratoga Springs. I dare you. Try to find an affordable apartment. They don’t exist anymore,” said Woerner.

In addition to creating a statewide registry, the legislation would allow counties to tax short-term rentals like hotels.

Democratic Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said the added revenues could boost efforts to make the Hudson Valley county more affordable.

“Last year, I proposed and we now have established a Housing Action Fund in Ulster County to expand the stock of affordable housing for our residents. And this legislation would enable us to collect a few million more dollars in taxes that could go toward this fund and could go toward addressing the housing crisis in our communities,” said Metzger.

The City of Kingston in Ulster County recently reached its 1 percent cap on short-term rentals.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who serves as President of the New York Conference of Mayors, called the lack of a statewide registry a public safety issue.

The third-term Democrat drew a distinction between local property owners who rent their own space with anonymous companies that make it difficult to track down an owner – in the case of an emergency or raucous parties and disruptive guests.

“That makes not only the people in the neighborhood feel unsafe, the people going to that event don’t know who the owner is. There’s, oftentimes, very challenging for us to find that owner, to ensure that we’re holding them accountable,” said Sheehan.

The hotel industry is also in support of the legislation. Mark Dorr is President of the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association. He said short-term rentals fill a need that hotels cannot always address.

“There are parts of the state where a hotel isn't viable to build because they don't have enough business in that area, year-round to do that. So, there are pockets, large pockets of the state, that need short term rentals,” said Dorr.

The bill does have its opponents.

The Travel Technology Association, a group that advocates on behalf of short-term rental and travel sites including Airbnb, says it has unsuccessfully sought a “reasonable consensus” with the lawmakers including Hinchey and Fahy on statewide legislation.

Association CEO Laura Chadwick said in a statement, “Despite these sincere efforts, these policymakers continue to focus on instituting a complex system of regulation that would hurt the upstate economy, make travel more expensive, and reduce the income potential for thousands of New Yorkers who rent their homes to make ends meet.”


Expedia Group, the company that owns and operates short-term rental site Vrbo, said in a statement it “supports vacation rental policies that balance community needs with the benefits of a healthy, diverse tourism economy. We encourage policymakers to engage with the short-term rental community to identify solutions that account for its significant economic and cultural contributions across New York.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.