Santino Moves to Halt Short-Term Rentals in America’s Largest Township, Proposes Rental Permits, Restricts Rentals to One-Month Minimum

Standing in front of one of Hempstead Town’s oldest and most historic homes, Supervisor Anthony J. Santino announced his proposal to prohibit short-term residential property rentals. Accompanying the rental restriction proposal, the Supervisor detailed his plan to establish a rental registry and permit program that would help ensure the safety of residential units and compliance with fire safety regulations, building codes and zoning provisions. Santino said the new rental restrictions and the rental permit and registry requirements have become necessary as a result of the proliferation of short-term residential rentals, which has been evidenced through a sharp increase in transient rental listings in the town on websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and Home Away. At the announcement of proposed rental regulations, which occurred at the town’s Rock Hall colonial-era museum and house in Lawrence, Santino was joined by Senior Councilwoman Dorothy L. Goosby and Councilmen Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne, Sr.

“Ensuring the safety of properties in our township and preserving the residential character of our communities and neighborhoods in Hempstead Town are among my top priorities,” said Santino.  “Prohibiting short-term residential rentals and establishing a rental permit and registry program will help achieve the important goals of keeping residential houses safe and maintain community character.”

Under Santino’s proposal, residential property rentals would be restricted to a minimum of 28 days. The Supervisor also announced accompanying provisions that would establish a residential property rental permit and registry program. The permits provide for property inspections to ensure that rental units are safe and compliant with fire safety, zoning and building codes and regulations. The officials specifically pointed to the need to ensure that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are operational and that adequate egress exists in residences that are rented within the town.

“Keeping people safe in residential rental properties is very important,” said Goosby. “A well-run rental registry and permit program can help save lives by making certain that properties have proper safety equipment and construction.”

The Santino home-rental registry and permit program would entail a fee of $500 for the initial two-year permit and a renewal fee of $450 thereafter. The fees would cover the administrative costs of processing applications and the expenses associated with building department inspections to ensure compliance with building regulations and safety requirements.

“As a former fire department chief, I know the importance of ensuring the safety of residential properties,” stated D’Esposito. “Property inspections will ensure the presence of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, among other safety precautions.”

The proposed new law would also guard against transient or short-term residential listings by prohibiting certain rental and real estate listings. In specific, listing of properties for short-term rental or listing real estate as accommodating “transient rentals” would not be permitted under the Supervisor’s proposal. Santino indicated that the town’s building department would be monitoring short-term rentals sites and real estate listings to ferret out violations.

“By carefully monitoring short-term rental advertisements and real estate listings, our town can actively regulate short-term rentals in our town,” observed Dunne. “This initiative is an investment in the preservation of our suburbs.”

A small group of existing rental properties that are subject to other building department regulations would not fall under the new rental-permit program. In particular, mother-daughter and senior-accessory apartments, which are subject to other existing inspections and permitting requirements, would not fall under the proposed rental permit and registry program.

The Supervisor said that the proposed short-term rental prohibition would be included on the June 20th town board calendar and be the subject of a public hearing at a July 11th meeting.

“Today we are standing in front of one of our town’s oldest and most historic homes, which stands as a emblem of the residential character of our township,” concluded Santino. “This proposal to restrict residential property rentals will preserve the suburban nature of our area and keep people who rent homes safe.”