I find umbrage with Michael A. Smith’s editorial castigating short-term rentals (“Austin can’t answer main short-term rental question,” The Daily News, June 12).
Five years ago, during land development regulations discussions, short-term rentals were praised for rehabbing derelict properties becoming the “best house” on the block, saving residents over $4,300 annually on property taxes, contributing over 25 percent of hotel operating tax, which helps fund multiple nonprofits on the island, and improving property values.
The state would have cut the power of the homeowners in the three Residential Only areas by rescinding the RO designation. Owner occupied rentals would have been permitted.
The cost of housing is pure economics. Taxes, insurance, mortgage and maintenance are contributory to the cost as values increase. Owning property is an investment, whether owner occupied, rental property or short-term rental. Values are market driven; it’s called free enterprise. I know of no one who desires their values to decrease and suffer a loss.
Property owners protest every year to reduce taxable value, but when it comes to selling they want the highest price possible. There’s proof island wide with the number of vacant properties, estimated at over 7,000, where owners/heirs hold on for exorbitant offers and let properties deteriorate until they fall down. Who’s questioning these owners and what do they contribute to the economics of the island?
Perhaps look at slum landlords who do little, if anything, to maintain properties. Are they willing to reduce rents to subsidize affordable housing? I doubt it.
Are second homeowners on West End included in this castigation? Is it wrong to earn income on a second home that contributes to the tax base or is it only “in town” that’s being blamed? There are those of us who have short-term rentals to subsidize our retirement and have a place for family visits. What about multi-family, condos and apartments; are their rents not market driven? Let’s take a poll of how many property owners and landlords are willing to reduce sales price and reduce rents to create affordable housing.
There are property owners who converted long-term rentals to short-term as they were tired of evicting tenants for non-payment of rents and spending thousands of dollars to repair damages. There are apartment owners who have rehabbed their properties and increased rents to have responsible tenants. Are they at fault for protecting their investment?
I also find it hard to believe there are approximately 700 non-compliant STR’s. If this is actually the case, why are they allowed to “fly under the radar.” This is an affront to those who are legally registered and paying hotel occupancy tax. Someone isn’t doing their job. Now that the local economy has improved, visitor counts are up and property values have increased, it appears those who have contributed are now being told to cease and desist.
As someone who has worked at the local and state level to protect municipal authority regarding short-term rentals and the rights of residents, I just got thrown under the bus.