Baxter Estates adopts law that prohibits rentals for under 180 days

Baxter Estates adopts law that prohibits rentals for under 180 days
The Village of Baxter Estates voted to adopt a local law that requires rental units to be leased for a minimum of 180 days. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Village of Baxter Estates voted to adopt a local law that will prohibit residential properties in the village from being rented for less than 180 days.

The village’s attorney, Christopher Prior, said the law was drafted with input from the community. He said it was to address the “Airbnb issue” that is affecting residents of the village.

“The Board finds a reasonable likelihood of material disruption and adverse impact to the residents if homes, including residential apartments, in the Village are allowed to be occupied by persons who are neither owners nor occupants for a duration sufficient to support an incentive to maintain the home in a manner consistent with community standards for single family homes occupied for longer durations, and to conduct themselves during their occupancy in a manner that respects neighbors and the community as would persons with longer standing relationships to their neighbors,” the local law states.

Mayor Nora Haagenson said the village opted for a 180-day minimum as it suited the village better and provides more stability for the village and neighbors.

“We’ve all had situations where we experienced distasteful behavior,” Haagenson said in regard to short-term rentals.

The law includes a provision in which a property owner who would experience a significant hardship in complying with the law can request the board to waive the law for them. The exemption would be granted at the Board of Trustees’ discretion.

The law exists within the zoning section of the village’s code for the purpose of implementing larger penalties than other sections within the code, Prior said. He added that this is to deter offenders.

Adriana Pinon Eluto, Baxter Estates resident and married to trustee Jeffrey Eluto, said during the meeting she opposed the law because it is an unwarranted overstep by the government into basic property ownership. She said that other laws, like noise ordinances, are sufficient in addressing the issues of short-term renters.

She said there are several instances in which residents may need to rent their homes for less than 180 days and it should not be the government’s ability to determine when that could be permitted.

The local law includes an enforcement scheme for offenses of not complying with the law.

First offenses are subject to a fine maximum of $7,500, second offenses committed within a period of five years are subject to a fine of $7,500 to $15,000 and third or subsequent offenses, all within a five-year period, are subject to a fine of $15,000 to $30,000.
All offenses are also subject to a maximum sentence of 15 days, potentially in conjunction with the fines established.

Pinon Eluto said that she is also against the punishments for individuals not compliant with the law, which fellow Baxter Estates resident Chuck Idol concurred with.

Pinon Eluto said that the consequences of imprisonment deprive people of their liberty and should be used “exceedingly sparingly.” She said a prison sentence as a potential consequence of not abiding by this law would have extreme consequences for individuals and contribute to a larger over-incarceration problem in the state.

Prior said that while incarceration is a potential punishment for not abiding by this law, he said it is an “extraordinarily rare event” that has never been used by the village. He said it is in the law as a potential remedy in the case that fines are not adequate in addressing the issue.

Prior said that many of the village’s local laws include incarceration as a potential punishment, so it would be a mistake to remove it from this law as it would disregard the village’s uniformity of enforcement.

Idol agreed with Pinon Eluto that incarceration is excessive for the law, along with many other local laws that include it, but was in support of the law overall.

While the board of trustees voted to implement the law as it was presented at the meeting, excluding trustee Eluto who voted against the bill, the board said they are considering future discussions to evaluate the necessity and potential repealing of incarceration as a punishment.

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