In Southold Town, Short term rentals have been restricted to a minimum of two weeks for the past two years. We have seen a marked reduction in seasonal rentals and even worse some home owners have been forced to sell their homes since their basis for affordability included the rental income to cover costs of increased taxes and operating expenses.
It’s time to assess the effectiveness of the regulations and determine if in fact we have made life better or worse for those of us who live here on the North Fork.
“Real property ownership in the U.S. is commonly understood to come with a bundle of rights—the three core ones being the right to live in it, to rent it and to sell it. It is also generally accepted that some degree of regulation may impose limitations on property ownership, namely through the power of a government to promote order, safety, health, and the general welfare of society, within constitutional bounds. Zoning regulation is derived from this same authority, at the state level, and may be granted to local governments."
“Any ordinance that prohibits property owners from renting their homes, or significantly restricts the right to rent, strips them of one-third of their fundamental bundle of economically productive rights. Court decisions have established that property owners are entitled to use and enjoy their property, and that a regulation depriving an owner of property rights cannot be sustained unless it is required by due regard for public health, safety, comfort or welfare. Constitutional limitations on a government’s authority to regulate rental housing include the right to due process, equal protection, “takings” compensation, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Statutory limitations on the regulation of residential rentals include fair housing laws and private property rights protection acts. The most common rental restrictions, from licensing and inspection requirements to noise and maximum occupancy limits, and all those imposed by zoning authority, are subject to constitutional and statutory limitations.”*
We need to be mindful of protecting our individual property rights while at the same time protecting safety, comfort and welfare of every citizen. But has the two week restriction made Southold Town a better place to live and work? Would code enforcement have had the same impact without taking away property rights and causing some home owners financial hardship? The Town Board should do an adequate assessment and revisit the issue – is this a case of code change without adequate vetting and analysis with unintended consequences?
*Source: National Association of Realtors, Residential Rentals, The Housing Market, Regulations, and Property Rights, Spring 2017.
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