2017-11-17 / Letters

Short-term rentals not good for neighborhoods

To the editor:

I want to thank the South Portland City Council for setting aside time to look at the issues involved in the proliferation of short-term rentals in our city which are usually done under the auspices of Airbnb or VRBO.

I will start by saying that my husband and I have hosted people in our home through Airbnb for two years – with the guests using our grown son’s bedroom while we are home. We are very aware of how the resulting income can be helpful.

My concern is with the rentals of homes that are not owner occupied and are being bought as investment property for the sole purpose of doing short-term rentals. It becomes a commercial business in a residential area – a hotel with no management on the premises. For neighbors, who thought they were living in a residential neighborhood, it involves a constant revolving door of strangers living next door, with whom there is no ongoing relationship or accountability if there are problems. Some of these houses are having up to 16 guests at one time with accompanying cars and often parties. There are people who are buying three or four houses, as a business investment to do short-terms rentals, which are much more profitable than renting out to a year-round tenant. This is making it hard for people to find year-round rentals in our city. I believe it is a factor in the escalating cost of homes in some neighborhoods. This is great for sellers, but it is making home ownership out of reach for many people while excluding year-round renters from our communities.

I am very concerned about there being a slippery slope where some of our neighborhoods could become like Higgins Beach in Scarborough, with limited year-round residents, impacting on the sense of community in our schools and neighborhoods.

This is a chance to put the brakes on this run-away train and take time to look at what we want for the future of our city. We have a chance now to let our city council know how we feel.

Roberta Zuckerman South Portland

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