Convention addresses short-term trip leases in Maine

On Tuesday, the Trip Rental Professionals of Maine held a gathering in Freeport to speak about challenges their business is dealing with.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — In his greater than a decade working for the city of Kennebunkport, director of planning and improvement Werner Gilliam has seen loads of change — notably within the short-term rental business. He says whereas it has all the time been a dialog within the coastal city, it took off with the arrival of on-line platforms like AirBnb. 

“Homes that had been coming available on the market had been promoting shortly and had been displacing people who might have been long-term renters or residents — and had been then displaying up as short-term leases,” Gilliam stated about developments previously couple of years. 

To deal with that problem, the city lately put into place a capability on the variety of licenses it points for short-term leases within the space. Gilliam stated that capability excludes the neighborhood of Goose Rocks, which has lengthy been often called a seasonal rental spot. 

“We’ve issued a bit of over 400 licenses for short-term leases right here on the town,” Gilliam stated, noting it is a excessive quantity for a city with solely about 4,000 individuals year-round.

That form of regulation is precisely what the group Trip Rental Professionals of Maine (VRPOMe) is against. The group fashioned in 2013 to present short-term rental facilitators and homeowners a voice in Augusta after a invoice was introduced ahead that will have required all lodging locations to be licensed by the state. 

“We’re non-public houses. We’re not business entities. Most of them are solely rented for a really brief time,” Audrey Miller, the founding president of VRPOMe, stated. 

On Tuesday, Miller organized a convention in Freeport for VRPOMe members to debate challenges they are saying they’re experiencing within the business. She stated she’s conscious of the damaging narrative surrounding short-term leases and their potential impact on inexpensive housing, however is not shopping for it.

“One million-dollar home that sits on the sting of the ocean or on a lake in Maine will not be an inexpensive housing choice,” Miller stated, later including, “These individuals shouldn’t be lumped in with, say, locations like in Portland the place they’ve multi-unit condominium homes that will have been was a short-term rental.”

Miller stated many of those properties have been in households for generations, they usually want the additional earnings to assist pay for upkeep and taxes. She stated additionally they assist to assist Maine’s bustling tourism scene. 

“They supply an terrible lot of cash to our economic system. They’re good for our economic system. We’d like to ensure we do not do something to disrupt this,” Miller stated.

Patricia Moore, govt director of the International Trip Rental Affiliation, who was additionally at Tuesday’s convention, agrees. She additionally stated she thinks there are different options to the inexpensive housing disaster, since many of those leases are seasonal.

“Till we alter the best way that we take a look at land-use and planning and make it simpler for individuals to get into the market and encourage the event of extra inexpensive housing, it’s not going to get higher,” Moore stated.

VRPOMe is opposing a variety of payments associated to charges and taxes on short-term leases which can be being carried over to the subsequent legislative session. Considered one of them, sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Strout, R-Harrington, would impose a price on short-term leases that the individuals staying there must pay, just like a cleansing price.

“There may be nothing that the enterprise proprietor has to pay out of their pocket or their rental. It’s all contingent upon the person who stays,” Strout stated, noting it could be as much as each municipality in Maine to resolve whether or not they needed to undertake this measure and the way a lot they’d cost.

Strout stated the cash might go towards any of the municipality’s wants, together with inexpensive housing. She additionally stated she’s planning so as to add an modification to the invoice to ensure it excludes campgrounds. 

“I believe for those who’re coming right here and you’ll pay $2,000 every week to remain, you won’t discover seven {dollars}; [but] seven {dollars} over a thousand leases for a small city provides as much as assist EMS, or colleges, or that again street that everyone’s touring on,” Strout stated.

NEWS CENTER Maine additionally reached out to HospitalityMaine for remark, since VRPOMe will not be part of that nonprofit.

In a press release, Nate Cloutier, director of presidency affairs, stated partly, “A key distinction between our two organizations is that our lodging group is topic to rules that trip houses should not, and as such, we haven’t all the time agreed on what sort of oversight could also be wanted. The 2 can coexist within the state’s tourism market, however there’s an argument to be made about establishing a extra degree taking part in discipline concerning which properties ought to have some rules.”

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