MAJOR ISSUES: WHAT ARE THE MAJOR ISSUES RELATED TO SHORT-TERM VACATION RENTALS?
Four specific issues surfaced during the recent Walworth County Board deliberations, including:
The rights of homeowners to do what they want with their property so long their actions do not threaten public health and safety
- The need to respect the concerns of neighbors related to noise, traffic, and inappropriate behavior
- The effect of proposed regulations or the lack thereof on the local public and private revenues generated by the rentals
- The effect of the proposed regulations or the lack thereof on local hotel and motel business.
HOMEOWNER PROPERTY RIGHTS
More than 300 Walworth County homeowners rent their homes out to short-term vacation renters. They do so for a variety of reasons, but foremost among those reasons is economic necessity – i.e., the need to pay the mortgages, cover the property taxes, help pay the bills and fund their retirement.
Nearly all homeowners understandably believe that as long as they are not hurting or endangering others or violating environmental laws they should be able to do what they want to with their own property.
Walworth County Good Neighbors Association Position on this issue: Our members believe that property owners’ rights must be respected; that short-term rentals should be allowed; and that arbitrary time limitations should not be used to effectively stop homeowners from exercising their rights.
For every one of the 300+ homeowners who rent their homes out to short-term rentals, there could be as many as two to six neighbors who might be affected by the behavior of the renters; so somewhere between 600 and 1,800 Walworth County residents could have standing as neighbors.
While it is clear that some neighbors have been inconvenienced and that more needs to be done to address their problems, a review of public complain and enforcement records clearly indicates that short-term vacation rentals are not a major problem in Walworth County. Specifically, for example, in the past 3 years (2012, 2013, & 2014), Walworth County Sheriff’s Office records that action was requested/required at only five properties (4 in the Town of Delavan and 1 in the Town of Geneva).
Walworth County Good Neighbors Association Position: Our members believe that our neighbors should not be put at risk or inconvenienced by inappropriate behavior. We believe that effective regulation rather than prohibition is the right approach.
Economic impact of short-term vacation rentals estimates that the average daily spending of renters generates more than $17 million dollars a year in local spending in Walworth County. That level of spending would obviously support a lot of local jobs and also generate more than $600,000 in room tax revenues and about $86,000 in sales tax revenues to the County.
Walworth County Good Neighbors Association Position: Our members believe that all contributions to the local economy are important and do not believe that sufficient justification has been presented for putting needed public and private revenues at risk.