Residents speak out on Airbnb rentals at New Fairfield hearing

NEW FAIRFIELD — More than 50 people filled the Library’s Community Room on Wednesday to share with zoning officials their thoughts on the Airbnb rentals that have recently popped up in the city.

The hearing was organized by the city’s Zoning Commission to help members decide how to regulate short-term rentals, which have increased this year primarily in communities surrounding Candlewood Lake.

Those speaking on Wednesday were split between homeowners who say the online rental service has helped them keep or improve their homes and residents who say renters often pack large groups into small homes and put straining septic tanks, crowded parking lots or disturbing permanent neighbors.

“Every weekend we have new neighbors and almost every weekend for them is like the 4th of July, with fireworks and parties,” said a resident of the lake, who showed the commission members list a three-bedroom house on his street that advertises the capacity to sleep 10 people.

Other residents said up to 18 people have come to stay in small lakeside homes and are having issues with loud music, trash left in the yard or even tenants using the bathroom outside. outside or run around the neighborhood naked.

But some owners among the crowd who rent their homes on Airbnb said they had had no or minimal problems with renters, which are monitored by a review system by the website. Residents said using Airbnb has allowed them to keep their homes as taxes rise and tenants help New Fairfield’s economy by shopping for groceries and dining out in town.

“I think it’s up to the landlords to deal with,” said Rob White, who told the crowd he had been renting out his house for three years. “If a neighbor never tells me the problem, I can’t handle the situation. Instead of pushing back this sharing economy, I think neighbors need to talk to each other… There are enough opportunities for everyone.

White suggested creating a registry of landlords who rent out their homes so neighbors can contact them if there’s a problem. Others in the crowd suggested that homeowner associations intervene on any regulations or require homes to register as Airbnb rentals.

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