Hudson Council expected to vote on adopting short-term rental regulations

City does not currently have provisions for Airbnbs, VRBOs

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
A large party at this home on Windsor Road in Hudson in October 2020 generated several police reports and prompted discussions of enacting regulations on short-term rental properties such as Airbnbs.

HUDSON — Following two months of discussion, city legislators are poised to vote Feb. 2 on implementing regulations for short-term residential rental properties.

The city does not currently regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnbs and VRBOs.  Potentially regulating such properties became a discussion item after many residents complained about a party in October 2020 at a home on Windsor Road that was being used as a short-term rental. The party was attended by hundreds of people and generated several police reports.

Under the proposal before council, a short-term rental operator would go through a licensing process where they would apply for a permit to operate. The permit would have provisions that must be met. The application fee would be $100.

Anyone who wants to operate a short-term rental would have to submit an application for a permit to the community development director or his/her designee. If the application is approved, it would take effect the day it's issued and would expire on Dec. 31 of the same year. The operator must apply for a new permit each year.

The first version of the legislation went before council in early December and then a revision was brought to council on Jan. 19. At that meeting, council voted to postpone action on the legislation to allow for more time to review the changes.

The revisions to the short-term rental proposal that were introduced Jan. 19 included: establishing a 14-day public comment period before a permit is issued. Any comments received during the 14-day period would be kept on file; the maximum number of occupants would be two per bedroom plus three other people; a short-term rental property must have an annual fire department inspection before a permit is issued or renewed; and the permit must be renewed every year.

Council members who spoke during the workshop meeting on Jan. 26 said they were generally pleased with the amended regulations.

Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) said he's spoken with residents and a bed and breakfast operator about the proposed changes.

"General consensus is people feel pretty good about where we landed," noted Sutton. "Maybe it's not perfect, but there's a lot to like in there."

Sutton observed the revised regulations give members of the public a chance to offer their comments on a short-term rental operator's permit application, levels the playing field between short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts, and sets up a tool to "eliminate problem properties."

Council member Nicole Kowalski (at-large) said she was "really happy" with the revisions that city staff members made to the proposed regulations.

"I think that, at this point, it's time that we just get this going, implement it and then maybe in a couple months, if we see a need to revisit it, we can do so then," stated Kowalski.

Feeling the legislation addressed "most things we want," Council member Chris Foster said, "There's not a tremendous amount of public input prior to issuing a permit, but there is public notice. The public notice, public comments provide the stick on the back end for bad actors. It gives us flexibility, reactivity, [and] control, if something comes up."

Bed and breakfast operations would be exempt from the proposed regulations, according to Community Development Director Greg Hannan.

Other components of the short-term rental regulations are:

• A short-term rental operator permit can be suspended and/or revoked if "[the operator is] found to be perpetuating conditions interfering with the use and enjoyment of properties within the short-term rental vicinity." Examples of those conditions are noise disturbances, nuisances, drug offenses, disorderly conduct and too many vehicles parked at the site.

• For a first violation, the permit is terminated and the short-term rental host would not be allowed to re-apply for a new permit for six months. For a second violation, the permit is terminated and the host would not be allowed to re-apply for one year. For a third violation, the permit is terminated and the host is prohibited from ever re-applying for a new permit.

• An individual who operates a short-term rental property without a permit will be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, the penalty for which is a maximum fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for a maximum period of six months, or both.

• The fine for a first offense on violating other sections of the regulations is $500 and the fine for subsequent offenses is $1,000.

Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 2.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.