The city of Rotterdam plans to put in place a moratorium on short-term rentals. However, owners of some Airbnb properties here claim that the move would infringe on their rights as landowners and business owners.
“We are concerned about the government’s overbreadth,” said Glenn Schworm, who owns six short-term rentals in Rotterdam with his wife Amber. “It’s a property; we don’t break any laws. In fact, we have checked, no laws have been broken and no violation of the code has been violated. “
The city is holding a hearing Wednesday night to gather residents’ comments on short-term rentals. At a city council meeting on April 14, two residents raised concerns about a short-term rental on Sunrise Boulevard. The Schworms have stated that they own the subject property at 1171 Sunrise Blvd.
Glenn Schworm said they started operating short-term rentals 18 months ago, starting with a rental right across from their home in Rotterdam.
“We wanted to make sure this was a viable and safe business model and that it wasn’t going to be a pain in the neighborhood,” he said.
He said they had managed the rental for six months and once a few issues were resolved they were good to go.
“If executed correctly, it’s a great business model,” he said. “It’s great for the community, it brings people in, they are nice.”
Amber Schworm said people stayed at the properties for events such as weddings, graduation ceremonies, funerals and sporting events. She said they generate money for the economy.
There are 125 short-term rentals in Schenectady County – a handful of being in Rotterdam, said Todd Garofano, executive director of Discover Schenectady.
He said short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb and VRBO pay an occupancy tax, which amounted to $ 20,000 in revenue for the county last year.
“Plus, visitors who occupy short-term rentals spend money while they’re here at local restaurants, stores, attractions, gas stations, etc.”
But not everyone is happy with short term rentals.
Diane Bauland of Sunrise Boulevard said she didn’t feel safe with a short-term rental next to her, but didn’t want to say if she thought they shouldn’t be in town.
The Schworms said people are afraid of what they don’t understand.
“These houses are not rented out to homeless people… this is not a boarding house where we say, ‘Hey, it’s free, come in,’” said Glenn Schworm. “It’s not for pimps and prostitutes. It’s not for anyone that scares you. It’s not like a cheap hotel.
He said that people who stay in Airbnbs get rated and that he or his wife can check that person’s ratings for stays in other locations before renting them. Hosts are also rated.
Amber Schworm said they also won’t rent to people who don’t agree to their house rules, which include a ban on smoking and house parties.
Glenn Schworm said it wasn’t the first time they needed to defend their business with city officials. He said they talked to Scotia Village board members for two hours about the details of what they were doing.
“We only had two problems and they were early and they were potential party problems; we nipped them in the bud in 15 to 30 minutes, ”he said.
He said this covers an 18-month operating period during which there were over 400 bookings at their various locations.
He said neighbors generally worked with them to resolve issues. This is not the case with Sunrise Boulevard.
“It’s always when a neighbor next door decided not to like it and he had a fit,” he said.
“We are continuing our dialogue with the community on short term rentals as we find out if there is a problem and how best to proceed,” said Steven Tommasone, city supervisor. “Wednesday’s public hearing is another step in this process. We look forward to hearing from both sides of the issue as we gauge the best way forward. Our hope is to have a policy that best suits our city and that balances the concerns of landlords and neighborhoods.
Glenn Schworm said he contacted Tommasone about the issue and had not received a response.
The Schworms said they would attend the public hearing on Wednesday. However, Glenn Schworm said if the city decides to go through a moratorium, it is ready to take legal action.
“No doubt about it,” Schworm said. “I’ve already spoken to legal counsel; we’re going to sue them, ”Schworm said. “We [would] believe our Fourth Amendment rights are being violated and we will sue them. It is for the principle.
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