Village Rentals... Where Do We Go From Here?
The question of rentals in Bellport Village has been
hotly debated for some time now. Terms such as B&B, Airbnb, Home Rentals,
Room Rentals, Short Term, Long Term, Monthly Rentals, Weekly Rentals, Daily
Rentals, Amenities, Residential Area, Commercial Area, and Professional area
have been thrown around to the point where I for one, can no longer keep
track of them. I don’t really know if I’m for the proposed changes in
Village Code or against them because I’m confused.
The question of Village rentals came to a head at the December 19, 2016
Village Board meeting when a proposal for the first step towards updating
the Village Codes, the process for registering a “Whole House” property for
rental purposes, was voted down two to two, with one Trustee absent. After
the meeting, I asked several members of the Board, “Where do we go from
here?” and their response was, they didn't know, but it would take the
support of at least three members of the Board to put the subject back on
My guess is that many of you are just as confused as I am so, in an effort
to better understand the issues involved, I asked for a meeting with Mayor
Fell, Village Clerk John Kocay, and Village Attorney Dave Moran so they
could help me better understand the issues and processes facing the Village.
First off, I don’t think there is any doubt about this being a “Hot Topic”
both inside and outside of the Village. You almost can’t pick up a newspaper
without seeing an article about a city, town, or village government trying
to adopt new laws to control the rapid growth of rental properties in their
communities. No one wants a “Party House” next door and elected officials
are trying to adopt rules and laws that will preserve the character of their
communities while at the same time respecting the rights of the owners of
those properties. Bellport’s Village Board says it wants to try to stay
ahead of this trend rather than play “Catch Up” after things get out of
hand. Let’s see if I can clarify the issues involved without muddying the
waters any further.
What was the Board’s goal when the issue of B&B’s was originally
Right now B&B’s, or the rental of individual rooms in an “Owner Occupied”
home for 14 days or less, is not a permitted use in the residential areas of
Bellport Village. Village Hall’s goal was to find a way for home owners to
be able to operate B&B’s in the residential areas of the Village without
impacting the neighbors of those homes.
Can you rent your entire house to someone?
Yes, in the Residential areas of the Village. Yes in the
Commercial/Professional areas of the Village as long as the property has a
residential component to it. You can’t rent a storefront to a family for
Can you operate a B&B in your home?
It depends on where you live in the Village. If you’re in the
Commercial/Professional areas of the Village you can. (Click Here for a map
showing the Commercial and Professional areas of Bellport Village.) If you
live in the residentially zoned areas of the Village, a B&B is not a
What paperwork needs to be done?
In the Commercial/Professional areas, an application for a B&B has to be
made to the Village Building Department. As B&B’s are not permitted in the
residential areas of the Village there’s no paperwork involved. Monday
night’s vote at the Village Board meeting would have created the paperwork
for “Whole House” rentals anywhere in the Village, but, as I said, it was
What does it cost?
For a Full House rental, right now there is no fee and no registration
because the proposal didn’t pass. If it had passed, there would have been a
yearly fee of $250 to register your house with the Village if you wanted to
rent it to someone. For a B&B in the Commercial/Professional areas, the only
fee would be the normal Building Department fees relative to the cost of any
renovations which would have to be done to create the B&B. There are no
yearly registration fees for B&B’s.
Are there currently any restrictions on Whole House rentals?
Yes, no more than three, “unrelated,” people can rent a house in the
Village. In other words, a mother, father, son, and daughter are fine. Three
fraternity brothers are fine, but four fraternity brothers renting a house
in the Village is not permitted.
What does an ID Card cost for someone renting a house in the
Up until recently, the person signing the lease could buy a Village ID card
for $75 and then have additional people use Village amenities as his or her
guest. Last month, at the November Village Board meeting, the Board changed
the ID Card price structure. The renter now pays a flat $250 for from one to
five ID Cards for the people in his or her party. If additional cards are
needed beyond the initial five, they will cost an additional $75 each.
What safety inspections are required of a house before it can be
Right now, none. The proposal that failed would have required various safety
inspections by the Village Building Department, Fire Department, etc.,
before the house could be rented. The owner of the house could have also
“Self Certified” the safety of the house by bringing in an approved
commercial service to certify the safety of the house.
Does a B&B have to serve breakfast?
Does the owner of the house have to be present and live in the
For a Whole House rental, no. For a B&B, it isn’t as clear. It seems that
the owner of the house, or their agent would have to live in the house. In
other words, a manager could be hired to live in the house to fulfill this
requirement. I pointed out that having a hired manager present is not the
same thing as having the owner of the house there. The owner of the house is
going to care for the house and their neighbors much more carefully than a
Which Village amenities are available to a renter with a valid
Village ID Card?
For Whole House renters, all of them. They have access to and pay for
amenities, such as the ferry or golf, as if they are Village residents. B&B
guests would have to be taken to an amenity by the home owner as the home
owner’s guest and pay guest fees.
I then posed this question. I understand how the person renting
their home benefits, they make money. However, since the Village amenities
are owned collectively by all of the Village residents, how does allowing
renters to use the amenities benefit the average home owner who isn’t
renting their home?
The answer was that if you’re renting your house you have to give up your
Village ID card for the period of time you’re renting your house. So, the
load on the amenities increases because of the renter, but it decreases
because the owner of the house can’t use the amenities. The result,
according to the Village Board, is no impact.
Length of rental
B&B’s can be rented for up to 14 days. If you rent a Whole House for four
months or longer, you are a resident of the Village of Bellport with all the
rights and privileges that any other resident would enjoy. If you’d like a
Village ID Card, you just go down to Village Hall and pick one up just as
any other resident would. The Owner of the house is simply the owner of the
house. If you rent a whole house for less than four months, you are a “short
term renter.” If you’d like an ID Card, you can purchase one to five cards
for a flat $250. Additional cards, beyond the initial five, are $75 each.
Are there any seasonal differences?
For now, there aren’t. The proposed new code would have treated the May to
September time period differently, but that isn’t in place so, for now,
every month in the year is treated the same.
The bottom line...
Right now, there are almost no rules or regulations in place to govern
either Whole House or B&B rentals other than B&B’s aren’t allowed in the
residential areas of the Village. Therefore, if problems with a particular
rental crop up, the Village has very few tools to use in order to help the
neighboring homes. At least some members of the Village Board would like to
take the first steps towards putting those tools in place. They point out
that any changes put in place would be reviewed periodically and changed
when necessary to better serve the residents of the Village.
Having listened to what everyone had to say, I now think I have a better
idea of the issues involved. Change is inevitable, but when it comes to
Bellport Village, I’d like that change to be “evolutionary,” not
“revolutionary.” I think rental pressures, both Whole House and B&B’s, will
only increase on the Village, not diminish. I think the Village Board should
work on a new proposal for changes to the Village Codes and regulations in
order to better protect those residents who are not renting out either all
or part of their homes. The priority should be how to protect the unique way
of life we’ve all come to cherish here in Bellport Village.
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