Short-term rentals worth watching in Chocolay Township

Short-term rentals. Ask nearby residents if they have an opinion on them, and likely you’ll receive a variety of strong-worded answers.

The Chocolay Township Board on Monday voted 5-2 in favor of a new ordinance regulating all rentals, which include short-term ones.

Short-term rentals have been a longstanding point of contention in the township. That came to a head at Monday’s meeting, which was attended by dozens of residents.

Most of the people who spoke in front of the board came out against the township allowing short-term rentals, noting they would negatively change a neighborhood’s character. Their concerns included renters trespassing on nearby properties, causing fire hazards, littering on the beach and allowing dogs to run unleashed, among others.

Another resident, however, pointed out short-term rentals are a new facet of tourism, with other communities already having them.

The ordinance will require property owners wishing to rent their properties for a fee for a day or more to provide their own personal and management company information, such as email addresses, telephone numbers and alternate contact numbers.

The ordinance also will require the owners or agents to maintain current lists of rental occupants, which must be presented to police, fire, emergency or other government personnel upon request.

Each tenant or renter is to receive a copy of a document that lists township rules and ordinances.

Failure to comply with the new rentals ordinance would result in a $250 fine for each violation, with three violations resulting in the revocation of the rental permit for the property for a year.

We believe landlords, though, should receive sufficient notice to correct any violations.

Short-term rentals, obviously, provide cash for the owners. However, they also provide a place for tourists to stay if they want an alternative to a hotel or motel.

Because they are such a relatively new form of business, they need to be regulated, with rules tweaked as needed. Should problems arise, it’s up to the owner to fix them and the local authorities to deal with ordinance violations.

The Chocolay Township ordinance is expected to go into effect on June 13.

Short-term rentals are increasingly becoming a fact of life, and as with many new things, there’s going to be worry as well as anticipation.

We’ll keep an eye on this issue and see what happens, and we suspect many others will as well.