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Some residents in a district of historic homes and tidy gardens are worried that Airbnb could alter closely knit neighborhoods by creating a revolving door of strangers.
In West Dummerston, neighbors in the compact neighborhood noticed the influx of newcomers when a neighbor started renting a home on Airbnb, said Beverly Tier.
“This is a quiet little community,” Tier said. “We know who our neighbors are, and when we have Airbnb people come, we don’t know who our neighbors are. There are a lot of children in this neighborhood, so that’s a little bit disconcerting for some people.”
The internet-based service that allows people to rent out their homes is growing in popularity, and Select Board Chairman Zeke Goodband tells Vermont Public Radio that the town is ready to take action amid mounting complaints in West Dummerston.
“The Airbnbs are flying under the radar,” Goodband says. “We just want to get them above ground and have them be subject to the same safety regulations and inspections that other rental properties are subject to.”
The town is preparing to send letters to those who’ve rented a home on Airbnb and ask them to apply for zoning permits with a goal of ensuring that Airbnb homes are subject to the same regulations as other rental properties in the community, Goodband said.
Dummerston isn’t alone.
In March, the town of Hinesburg put out a notice reminding Airbnb hosts that they need local permits. And in Hartford, a group of residents complained in February about cars driven by Airbnb renters getting stuck in the snow and inadequate parking.
State lawmakers recognized a need to get a handle on the Airbnb scene in Vermont, and they asked a number of state regulatory agencies to weigh in on the issue.
The Legislature also has ordered a second study this year to continue looking at how the state might play a role in the growth of online short-term rentals.
Airbnb, for its part, encourages hosts to check local zoning regulations to make sure rules are being followed to ensure hosts, neighbors and guests are on the same page.
The 3,000 Vermonters who rent their homes via Airbnb earned more than $17 million from 140,000 guests last year, which was an 87 percent boost from 2015. Airbnb said the typical Vermont listing is occupied for 23 nights per year and that the average stay is between two and three nights.
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