NJ shore town launches new rule to keep tabs on Airbnb renters
VENTNOR CITY — Officials are happy that outsiders are interested in visiting the city for its proximity to the shore and New Jersey's gambling mecca. And they view home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb as an easy way for folks to do this.
But when renters of these homes show up in a bus with extra mattresses, or host parties that result in gun violence, officials say, there needs to be a tighter leash on the homeowners giving up their property for a few days or weeks.
Effective Feb. 1, Ventnor City is requiring that folks renting out their homes for less than 30 days apply for a mercantile license and pay a $100 fee on an annual basis.
With the measure, short-term rental properties are treated more like a business, and the city has on record which homes are likely to have newcomers every so often. And in the event of complaints or serious trouble, the city has an easy way to find the owner of the property and hold them accountable.
"It's going to put the onus on the owner of the property to be a little more weary of who's renting, maybe do background checks," Police Chief Doug Biagi told New Jersey 101.5.
Biagi said at least 95 percent of the city's properties up for grabs on home-sharing platforms present no issues at all, but there's always a couple outliers.
On New Year's Eve, a man was shot inside a 12-bedroom home that had been rented out through Airbnb and had close to 100 people inside for a party that night.
Mayor Beth Holtzman said her office is "not about over-regulating things," but a move like this is in the best interest of residents who've been enjoying their neighborhood one way for decades, and suddenly see 10 new cars on their street every weekend.
"People don't want that kind of activity next door to them. It's a tough pill to swallow," she said.
A certificate of occupancy is also required for rentals lasting longer than 72 hours, Holtzman said.
Liz DeBold Fusco, Northeast public affairs manager for Airbnb, said the company supports regulations, but they'll likely differ from town to town depending on the community.
"Our concern is always just making sure that those regulations protect the rights of local hosts to share their home and make a little extra money, while still addressing the community's concerns," she said.
Fusco said the company has worked with many towns to establish their regulatory framework.
In nearby Brigantine, short-term rentals are treated as any other rental property; owners must register the property and pay an annual fee of $150. The city's acting fire official said officials are exploring the idea of developing specific rules for short-term rentals.
Airbnb listings in New Jersey attracted more than 743,000 guest arrivals throughout 2018. Property owners earned $133.6 million through hosting.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.