Council approves ‘short-term rental’ ordinance

West Milford. The Township Council approved an ordinance Wednesday night that regulates short –term rentals, including Airbnb properties.

| 05 Dec 2019 | 12:00

Township Council members voted 5-1 Wednesday night to regulate short-term rental properties including those operating as Airbnbs.

Councilman Lou Signorino was the only dissenting vote.

The ordinance requires property owners to get a $500 per year permit to operate use the properties for short-term rentals that consist of 1-30 days.

Many of these types of rentals are part of the Airbnb network.

As of July there were about 188 home owners in the township renting rooms and homes through the online Airbnb service, according to that company.

Those homes, which account for around half of those listed by the service in Passaic County, are located mostly at Greenwood Lake and Upper Greenwood Lake.

The businesses, part of what is being called the "gig economy," are new and unregulated.

Statewide legislation is currently being circulated among the state legislators, and residents of Jersey City voted in November to strictly regulate these kinds of properties.

Attorney Alfred V. Acquavivia representing several Greenwood Lake residents who object to short term rentals, attended several recent council meetings with some of his clients to push for local regulations.

He, and his clients, did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

Objectors said the council should require a background check of the people renting the houses, and look into a limit on number of guests allowed to stay.

There is concern that home values are decreasing because of the rentals and a diminished quality of life for residents is resulting.

The regulations approved, however, did not address some of the requests made by those seeking the regulations, such as requiring a minimum rental of at least five days.

It does require fire and health inspections, as well as someone named as an “agent” for the owner that can get to the property within 24 hours if there is a problem.

Property owners must get approval from condominimun associations and let lake associations know that they are applying for a permit, according to the ordinance.

It also allows the zoning officer to revoke the permit if there are several violations of township ordinances reported.

The council has been debating the issue for about a year and worked with the planning board to write the regulations.