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Batavia begins regulating Airbnb and similar operations

City imposing permit system, tax on short-term rentals

BATAVIA – Homeowners in Batavia renting out rooms or entire houses using and similar computer apps will be required to obtain a city permit and pay a hotel tax.

After considering the issue for a year, the city of Batavia will begin enforcing an ordinance already on the books regulating bed-and-breakfast operations.

Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening said property owners renting out their homes using Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) can expect to receive a letter from the city in about a month.

The bed-and-breakfast operators will have to apply for a conditional use permit, requiring payment of a $500 fee, a public hearing before the Batavia Plan Commission and approval from the Batavia City Council, Buening said.

Property owners within 500 feet of the applicant also will receive notices, potentially setting up confrontations between neighbors at the public hearings.

Mayor Jeff Schielke repeatedly has reported that he receives complaints about several of the short-term rental properties being used as “party houses.”

Prior to a public hearing for a conditional use permit, legal notices are to be published and a sign placed on the front lawn of the property, Buening said.

Buening told city aldermen there are about 17 properties in Batavia that have been identified by the city as engaging in the short-term rental business using Airbnb and VRBO.

Property owners who receive the bed-and-breakfast conditional use permit will pay a 3 percent tax on gross receipts, Buening said. The city already has been working with Airbnb to collect the tax directly from the online firm, Buening said.

Not all homeowners who rent out their properties will be subject to the new regulations.

Property owners may rent out their homes for 10 or fewer days per year “as a matter of right,” without falling into the short-term rental classification, Buening said.

And properties that are rented out for 30 consecutive days or more are considered leases and therefore exempt from the ordinance.

Short-term rental properties subject to the ordinance are classified as those rented out more than 10 nights per year, Buening said, with guest visits lasting less than 30 consecutive days.

Under the city’s ordinance, a bed-and-breakfast must be owner-occupied. If the property is not occupied by the owner, it would be considered a hotel, which is not permitted in a residential area, Buening wrote in a memo to aldermen.

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