Delmar Township is joining the municipalities that are setting guidelines for short-term vacation rentals.
On July 8, the township held a public meeting to gather input on adding short-term rentals as a permitted use to its zoning ordinance, said township Supervisors Ken VanSant.
The ordinance outlines cabins, campgrounds, bed and breakfast and other overnight stays, but not short-term rentals.
“There were no guidelines to operate and maintain and give the township protection,” said VanSant. “To not have it spelled out could create problems. It’s best to have it in place so we have guidelines.”
Many people are familiar with short-term rentals through online booking sites, such as Airbnb or VRBO (vacation rental by owner). Vacationers can book privately-owned houses for short-term stays, ranging from a night to a few weeks, but no more than 30 days.
Also incentivizing the township was Wellsboro borough council’s denial of a variance permit for two non-owner-occupied, short-term rental properties in July 2020, VanSant said. By adopting the ordinance, Delmar is protecting itself while allowing people to generate income through short-term rentals.
Delmar is not the only municipality mulling short-term rentals. Mansfield Borough Manager Chris McGann said the council has asked him to review other ordinances with the thought to add short-term rentals as a permitted use.
In the township’s proposed amendment, property owners would complete a one-page permit application, certifying that the property meets uniform construction code requirements, has smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and working fire extinguishers. The property owner is also responsible for remitting any hotel and sales tax to the county and state, VanSant said.
Occupancy would be capped at two people per bedroom, with a maximum of 14 people. Areas used for other purposes, including informal everyday use, would not be considered bedrooms.
The other responsibility — and a significant impetus for the ordinance is submitting documentation that the septic tank is pumped every five years and the system has been inspected by the sewer enforcement officer, said Van Sant.
“They have to verify that the septic system is capable of handling this type of activity,” he said.
The proposed revision also includes penalties for nuisances, such as failure to remove trash, noise or disorderly conduct. Owners allowing continued violations face fines between $100-$1,000 per violation, plus court and legal fees. The township could also revoke the permit.
The intent is to not only protect the property owner, but also neighbors and the township, which is ultimately responsible for sewer issues., VanSant said.