With more and more traffic en route to the vineyards and beaches of the North Fork each year, the eventual Hamptonization of eastern Riverhead and Southold Towns has taken on the air of inevitability. With wine, beaches and relatively affordable real estate, could share houses and party rentals be far behind?
Online tools for finding an easy and quick rental have escalated that process, some Greenport residents told the Southold Town Board last week, and they’re looking to Southold to limit the types of short-term rentals spurred on by websites like AirBNB and Vacation Rental By Onwer.
Lori Hollander of Greenport urged the town board to change their code to prevent so-called “excessive turnover” of rental properties, as has already been done in some areas of the Hamptons.
East Hampton’s town code, for example, now prohibits the rental of a residential property for a “daily, weekly or two-week rental basis on three or more occasions during any six month period,” and East Hampton is considering putting in place a rental registry which would require that landlords notify the town when they rent out their houses, to aid the town in prosecuting cases where landlords violate the excessive turnover portion of the code.
Ms. Hollander said the national media has been hot on the North Fork this year, leading to an uptick in tourism.
“The popularity of the North Fork has been growing rapidly,” she said, adding that Vacation Rental By Owner had 88 short-term rentals listed in Southold, 61 in Greenport, 29 in East Marion and 24 in Mattituck when she checked last week.
“And that’s only one of the sites,” she said. “Anyone living in a residential neigbhrood can now find themselves essentually living next to an unregulated, unsupervised B&B or transient hotel.”
Ms. Hollander was quick to point out that she doesn’t mind people renting out their homes for two weeks or a month, but when they start renting out their houses for just days at a time, she believes the town should step in.
Councilmen Bob Ghosio said he’s been hearing complaints about the issue from residents over the past two weeks, and Councilman Jim Dinizio said he’s noticed a house that’s rented for the short term on his own street.
“It must be an uptick,” said Mr. Ghosio.
“Its’ escalating like crazy because of the online sites,” said Ms. Hollander. “People who don’t know about it now are going to know about it.”
Adrian Greenberg of Greenport said such a house has popped up across the street from her.
“Would you like to be sitting in your home and have three to four cars and a minibus pull up across the street, people pour out, spend the night drinking and then they leave?” she asked. “I like to know that I can walk out of my house, I know who my neighbors are and I feel safe. Transients every single weekend showing up for a weekend is not a safe feeling.”
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he’d recently considered renting out his own house through an online site because he’s having difficulty paying his mortgage, but he’d always envisioned the rental as “a light, occasional use.”
He said he was recently informed by residents of East Marion that the websites have become a problem in Southold Town.
“I never anticipated how bad this problem would be,” he said.
Peter Terranova of Peconic said smartphone apps already allow people to get discounts on empty seats on helicopters en route to the Hamptons, and he’s sure day trippers coming to the North Fork on winery tours are using smartphone apps to find a place to crash and then party some more.
“As much as I hate governmental interference, you know what, when it’s interfering with our quality of life, I think the town board should look at it,” he said.
Real estate agent Chuck Mogul told the town board he gets two to three requests per day in his office at Andrew Stype Realty for short-term rentals in Southold.
“I don’t deal with them,” he said.