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Lake Placid starts vacation rental complaint line

LAKE PLACID — A new hotline for short-term vacation rental complaints in the town of North Elba is going live this Saturday.

That is also the day rental owners who haven’t applied for a permit will begin receiving violation notices from Host Compliance.

The new complaint hotline by Host Compliance provides a centralized location for Lake Placid and North Elba residents to file formal grievances against vacation rental properties. Complaints can be filed by phone, at 518-516-5222, or online at safe.hostcompliance.com/north-elba-ny/tips/type.

The online form lists nine primary types of complaints that could be filed: unauthorized operation of a short-term rental, occupancy limit violations, loud party, general noise issues, disturbances or trespassing issues, parking-related issues, trash-related problems, violation of advertising requirements, and fraudulent owner occupation. There is also a category that allows residents to file complaints that don’t fall into one of those groups. Those who file complaints can attach a photo or other evidence to the form.

The complaint hotline will be accessible 24/7, according to North Elba Code Enforcement Officer Michael Orticelle. Those who file a complaint can do so anonymously if they choose to, though Orticelle said attaching a name and contact information to complaints will make it easier for the town to make a case if a violation requires legal action.

Deadline approaches

This Friday, July 31, is the deadline to apply for a short-term vacation rental permit. The Building and Planning Department will begin enforcing the town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid’s new joint short-term vacation rental law starting this Saturday.

As of Monday, the town Building and Planning Department had received 220 applications for short-term vacation rental permits, 59 more than the week prior. But the latest count from Host Compliance shows more than 500 vacation rental properties within town limits, according to Orticelle. That number could include some exempt properties, but it could also mean that half of the rental units in this area are not registered with four days left before the deadline.

All rental owners who haven’t applied for a permit will receive a notification from Host Compliance that they’re in violation of the local law, according to Orticelle. The fine for the first week of noncompliance is $350, though that first fine may come a few days or weeks after Saturday. There’s a different fine for each subsequent week of noncompliance.

Even if the owner of a vacation rental isn’t planning to accept bookings for the rest of the year, if the property is listed online, the owner is still required to apply for a permit, Orticelle said.

“Listing is considered renting,” he said.

How to apply

Prior to starting a permit application, the town and village have suggested that property owners have all of their application materials ready, including:

• A site plan

• An information and signature page for all members with ownership interest

• 24/7 emergency contact information

• An occupancy tax registration certificate from Essex County

• Information on the type of short-term rental being operated

• SWIS (Statewide Information System) code — the town of North Elba’s code is 154089; the village of Lake Placid’s is 154001

• Parcel identification number, which can also be found in a number of places, including at essex-gis.co.essex.ny.us

• A map and description of a parking plan provided to guests

• Chimney inspection report (if applicable)

• Septic inspection report (if applicable)

• A copy of the deed.

Relevant forms and details of submissions are available on the town’s STR page at www.northelba.org/?page=government/code-enforcement/short-term-rental.

Orticelle estimated last week that once rental owners have all of the required materials available, the application process can take no more than 15 minutes.

Permit fees are processed through Host Compliance and are due at the time of application. Fees range from $200 for a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental to $1,200 for a home with more than nine bedrooms. Payment can be made via a checking account or credit card. People who rent out their properties for fewer than 14 days each year still have to apply for a permit but don’t have to pay for permits.

The Building and Planning Department has 30 days to review each owners’ application materials and issue or deny the permit. Permits are emailed to owners. Permits must be renewed each year and expire on the second anniversary of issue date.

To complete an application, visit secure.hostcompliance.com/north-elba-ny/permit-registration. More information on the short-term rental registration program can be found on the town’s website at http://www.northelba.org/?page=government/code-enforcement/short-term-rental.

Owners of short-term vacation rentals are also required to register their properties with the Essex County Treasurer’s Office. They’ve been required to register with the county since 2016. Airbnb and VRBO don’t register users with the county — hosts have to do that on their own, though Airbnb voluntarily collects the county’s occupancy tax on behalf of its users and remits the revenue to the county. Visit www.co.essex.ny.us/downloads/RoomOccupancyTaxRegistrationForm2020.pdf to download the registration form.