• October 22, 2019

Northfield aims to prohibit short-term home rentals - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Northfield aims to prohibit short-term home rentals

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Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 10:38 am

NORTHFIELD — City Council introduced an ordinance to ban residential rentals of fewer than 30 days following residents’ complaints about short-term rental services, such as Airbnb, operating in local neighborhoods. 

City Council introduced the ordinance Tuesday, Sept. 24, and plans to hold a public hearing on the ordinance and consider it for final passage during a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15. 

According to the proposed ordinance, “short term rentals frequently result in public nuisance, noise complaints, sanitation issues, overcrowding and illegal parking within residential neighborhoods.” 

The ordinance proposes that it would be illegal for any owner to allow a rental of fewer than 30 days. 

“Nothing in this chapter will prevent the otherwise lawful occupancy of an entire dwelling unit for a rental period of more than 30 days. However, rental of a room or a portion of the premises for any term is not permitted,” the ordinance states. 

Advertising for a rental of fewer than 30 days is also prohibited. 

Newspapers, magazines, radio, direct mail, internet, text and electronic messages, among other forms of media, are considered advertising, per the proposed ordinance. 

During the public comment portion of the Sept. 24 meeting, resident Darren Boyd asked whether having a roommate would be illegal under the ordinance. 

Boyd also spoke during the work session meeting Sept. 24, which was held immediately before the regular council meeting.  

Kris Facenda, the city solicitor, said it meant that the owner could not sublet or rent a portion of a home. 

“You can have a roommate. You’re not charging that person rent,” he said. 

City Clerk Mary Canesi said she believes that the current ordinance prohibits renting a portion of a house. 

During the work session, Boyd said he was “kind of surprised to see everyone jump immediately to restricting them altogether, as compared to maybe regulating them.”

“I understand a house that’s unoccupied, no one to really look over it, I understand the problem there, but there are people that are owner-occupied that do make a positive income off of having someone come stay at their house. Before you pass all of that (in the) ordinance, I would like you to really consider regulating as opposed to restricting,” he said. 

City resident Darren Delcher also spoke during the work session. 

He was also one of a few residents who spoke during a previous work session meeting Sept. 10 about concerns with short-term rentals. 

In the Sept. 10 work session, Councilman Jim O’Neill said he received about six or seven complaints about such properties. 

He said that a resident described some short-term rental properties in Northfield being used to host large parties and drugs being found nearby following one party. 

In some cases, people were putting one or two mattresses on a floor and renting it out, he said. 

Also on Sept. 10, resident Angelic Delcher expressed concerns about short-term rentals and said it was disconcerting having people coming to her neighborhood to party. 

“I certainly don’t want to limit anyone’s capacity to make money, yet I don’t want that revolving door of strangers next to me either,” she said. 

Darren Delcher said the residents of Pasadena Drive “greatly appreciate your action on the Airbnb.” 

“There is actually a gentleman who’s operating an Airbnb less than 100 yards from this room, and he is hosting as many as six guests in one bedroom and a common room on the second floor. I don’t believe he has a sprinkler. I don’t believe there’s a fire escape, so there’s a real safety issue for the guests there,” he said. 

Delcher said he thought short-term rentals would be “difficult to regulate and I think there are very few properties that can accommodate an owner-occupied property and Airbnb,” he said. 

Councilman Brian Smith said during the regular council meeting that he did not have enough personal information.

He also said he was approached by someone after the last meeting about “people who have done it legally.”

“This will affect their income and they’ve done it without incident,” he said.  

Councilman Frank Perri discussed Ocean City, Maryland’s laws, which he said heavily regulate short-term rentals.  

“This is an attempt to legislate it without banning it,” he said. 

During the meeting, when City Council was discussing the ordinance, Canesi said that to have a legal rental in Northfield the zoning officer must inspect it while it is vacant and a lease has to be presented. 

“To my knowledge, there’s not a single Airbnb that has followed that regulation, so no one has done it legally,” she said. 

Canesi said the ordinance closes the gap so that if somehow someone were able to have a home inspected while it was vacant and rent it out for a day with a lease that would be illegal.

Council voted unanimously to introduce the ordinance. 

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