Town of Clinton property owners operating short-term rentals with platforms like Airbnb or Vrbo will need to register following the unanimous passage of a new local law regulating the practice.

Councilman Michael Whitton, who oversaw the evolution of the law to its approval at the Nov. 10 town board meeting, was pleased with the bipartisan support. To reach that goal, he says he met with residents, zoning and planning board members, and the town’s zoning enforcement officer and building inspector.

“There were some people who wanted them banned completely, others that wanted no rules at all on them,” said Whitton. “I think we’ve found a good balance between them.”

The law splits short-term rentals (STRs) into two classes, hosted and non-hosted. Hosted STRs, where the property owner lives on the property during the rental, will need to register with the town for a certificate and pay an initial $150 fee. Renewals will cost $100 annually.

Non-hosted STRs, where the property owner is not on the premises, will be required to get a Special Permit through the planning board. There are insurance requirements, an inspection, and a need to show proof of an adequately functioning septic system, among other conditions. The special permit fee is $275 with a $200 annual renewal.

“We’re not looking to punish people; we’re looking to just make sure neighbors are being kind to neighbors and operating these things in a way that respects everybody,” said Whitton.

First proposed in July 2019 following community complaints, the law was ready for public hearings in early 2020, but once COVID-19 struck, the effort was delayed. 

Clinton is home to between 80 and 100 STRs, according to online services that scan web sites that offer the rentals.

The final public hearing on the law saw no opposition.

“I would commend everyone who has worked on it,” said Paul Thomas, a Clinton resident. “I think there’s been a tremendous amount of consideration given to all the issues. I think it’s a good law. I think we need it in the town.”

The law takes effect immediately and STR operators have six months to register with the town.

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