Bills to Watch: Senate Economic Development – S.210- Short Term Housing – 1.11.21

Senate Economic Development took testimony on S.210 – a Rental Registry bill meant to replace last year’s S.79 which was vetoed by the Governor. Short-term Rental (STR) requirements proposed in S.210:

Annual registration with exemptions for:

– Lodging establishments already required to be licensed by the Department of Health.

– Those STRs that have had to register with their municipality.

– Seasonal camps.

– Those operating no more than 3 units in or on the owner’s primary residence.

This is in deference to the Governor’s concern for “mom and pop” businesses and the committee is open to discussing the Governor’s desire to exempt units rented for less than 120 days.

Sen. Clarkson – we don’t know how many “mom and pop” businesses are in operation. We should know where Vermont businesses are so we can communicate with them when needed and to ensure health and safety measures are being met.

Amy Spear, Vice President of Tourism , Vermont Chamber of Commerce testified and highlighted the growing STR business model and how it is affecting housing stock. The highest rate of STRs are also in the counties with the most prominent housing shortage. There is no way to communicate with owners and guests (as needed when Covid hit the state). There is a huge disparity with the way guests are treated in Vermont when considering the differing lodging models.

Molly Mahar, President, Vermont Ski Areas Association asked for an exemption for a subset of units that are part of a managed group of units that must meet maintenance and safety requirements, rooms and meals taxes are collected, and communication concerns are met. This housing is used by guests full time so don’t affect housing stock.

Sen. Clarkson asked if she is asking that these units be considered an extension of the lodging establishment.

The committee will consider this further.