South Portland’s attempt to regulate short-term rentals needs to take into account all aspects of the issue, not just the behavior of a few bad tenants.
We have owned a vacation rental for nearly 15 years, and in that time we have had a grand total of two complaints. We keep very close touch with our neighbors. Restricting or banning short-term rentals will create several problems, many that come with a cost to the city and the community at large. In addition to normal real estate taxes, we pay Maine state lodging tax on every rental, plus we employ local tradespeople, vendors and service providers. All of our guests buy local goods and services, probably at a higher rate than residents. Grocery stores, rental-car companies, restaurants, lobstermen, etc. all see a significant amount of business from our tenants.
We are not blind and deaf to the problems and issues, nor do we object to licensing or inspections. We don’t currently live in South Portland, but we spend several months a year here, have a long history in Maine and in the Portland area, and our kids are here. We are not “rich” investors, nor are we house flippers. We bought our small cottage at a time when it had languished on the market for a long time. The sharing economy (Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) is not going away. The pain of change is always hard, but change is inevitable. The issues are complicated, and there are no simple solutions.
Tony Ickes and Susan Holland