Burlington considers short-term rental crackdown

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 4:47 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington is in the throes of a serious housing crunch and the City Council could address that by cracking down on short-term rentals. After Governor Phil Scott vetoed legislation calling for a statewide rental registry, Burlington is considering going it alone.

Julie Marks’ brother ran a bed and breakfast in Burlington, but now it’s hers. She runs it as an Airbnb -- one of about 400 short-term rental listings in the Queen City.

“A lot of the people who are at risk of losing their income are Vermonters like me,” Marks said. “The unit I short term rent used to be a bed and breakfast run by my brother, so I’m just continuing on that use, and suddenly I’m at risk of losing that vital income.”

A City Council committee began working on an ordinance Wednesday that would regulate short-term rentals like hotels, mandating safety standards and if the owner lives elsewhere.

In a memo, the city’s planning office says the proposal is “... aimed at minimizing the potential for adverse impacts to the city’s housing stock while balancing some flexibility for hosts to operate short term rentals.”

The city estimates the long-term rental vacancy rate is between one and two percent. But Marks says the housing crunch existed long before Airbnbs came to town. She says she’s all for regulating short-term rentals but is worried the current proposal could become even more restrictive once it’s discussed by the council. She says she doesn’t want to sell a rental that has been in her family for years and is a vital source of income.

“What we are really hoping to see is a good compromise from the city that allows existing short-term rental operations to stay in business and remain while still protecting the city from uncontrolled growth,” Marks said.

The Ordinance Committee took no action at their meeting Wednesday night. Officials tell WCAX one of the more controversial elements that would have required landlords of short-term rentals to have owned a property for at least three years, may be modified to have them only reside at the property instead.

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