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Oneonta Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Oneonta, New York

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Oneonta

The City of Oneonta, located in Otsego County, New York, allows short-term rentals (STRs) like Airbnb and VRBO in certain zoning districts, subject to specific regulations and permit requirements outlined in the city code.

According to Oneonta's zoning ordinance, short-term rentals are considered "tourist or transient uses" and are defined as:

"Any use of a property for occupancy for less than a thirty-day term of the tenancy, or occupancy for less than 30 days of a property for residential use leased or owned by a business entity, not including hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts as defined in this Code."

In residential districts R-1, R-2, R-3, and U, short-term rentals are only permitted if the property is the host's primary residence. The host must provide at least two documents proving primary residency, such as a driver's license, voter registration, or tax documents listing the STR address.

Non-owner-occupied STRs are prohibited in these residential zones. However, in the R-4 district, non-owner-occupied STRs may be allowed with a special permit.

Regardless of the zoning district, all STR hosts in Oneonta must obtain an annual permit from the Code Enforcement Office. The permit application requires:

  • Proof of primary residence (for R-1, R-2, R-3, U districts)
  • Floorplan sketch showing room dimensions, exits, smoke detectors
  • Proof of liability insurance covering short-term rental use
  • Designation of a local contact person if the host is not present
  • Permit fee payment (amount set by Common Council)

Once issued, all online listings must include the STR permit number. Failure to obtain a permit or include the number in advertisements violates the city code and is subject to fines.

The city has additional operational requirements for STRs, including:

  1. Maximum occupancy limits
  2. Compliance with building codes, fire safety, and property maintenance rules
  3. Restrictions on events, parties, and non-registered guests
  4. Parking limitations
  5. Noise and nuisance standards

Oneonta began regulating short-term rentals in 2018 to address the growth of Airbnb and its impacts on neighborhoods and housing availability. The regulations aim to allow STRs with reasonable restrictions to preserve community character and quality of life for residents.

As of 2023, the city has approximately 50-60 permitted short-term rentals, with most located near the downtown and Hartwick College/SUNY Oneonta areas, according to the Code Enforcement Office.

Prospective STR operators should carefully review Oneonta's short-term rental ordinance and consult with the Code Enforcement Office before starting a short-term rental business in the city. Failing to comply with the permit and operating requirements can result in significant fines and legal issues.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Oneonta

The City of Oneonta requires all short-term rental (STR) operators to obtain an annual permit from the Code Enforcement Office. This applies to any property rented for less than 30 consecutive days at a time, including Airbnb and VRBO listings.

To apply for an STR permit, the property owner or an approved agent acting on their behalf must submit the following to the Code Enforcement Office:

1. Completed Short-Term Rental Application Form

  1. Available on the city website or from the Code Enforcement Office
  2. Must be signed by the legal property owner or approved agent

2. Non-refundable application fee

  1. $50 for new STR permits
  2. $25 for renewal of existing permits

3. Proof of primary residence (for owner-occupied STRs in R-1, R-2, R-3, U districts)

At least two documents showing the STR address, such as a driver's license, voter registration, or tax records

4. Floor plan sketch

Showing room dimensions, exits, and locations of smoke detectors

5. Proof of liability insurance

Insurance covering short-term rental use of the property

6. Local contact person information

Name, address, and 24/7 phone number for a designated local contact, such as a co-host or property manager, if the property owner is not available

Must be able to respond to any issues within 30 minutes

Once a complete application is submitted, the Code Enforcement Office will review it for compliance with the city's zoning and building codes. If approved, an STR permit will be issued, valid for one year from the date of issuance.

The issued permit number must be clearly displayed on all online listings and advertisements for the short-term rental property. Failure to include the permit number or obtain a permit before operating an STR violates the city code and may result in fines.

STR permits must be renewed annually by submitting an updated application and renewal fee before expiration. There is no automatic renewal process, so the property owner must ensure their permit remains valid and in good standing.

It's important to note that an STR permit does not supersede any additional regulations that may apply to a property, such as HOA rules, lease agreements, or other local laws. Permit holders are expected to comply with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.

For specific questions about Oneonta's short-term rental licensing requirements or to obtain application forms, contact the Code Enforcement Office at (607) 433-3435 or CodeEnforcement@oneonta.ny.us.

Required Documents for Oneonta Short-Term Rentals

Property owners must submit several required documents to the Code Enforcement Office to apply for a short-term rental (STR) permit in the City of Oneonta. These documents help ensure that the rental property meets all necessary safety standards and complies with local zoning regulations.

The following documents are required as part of the STR permit application:

1. Completed Short-Term Rental Application Form

  1. This form is available on the city website or from the Code Enforcement Office.
  2. It must be signed by the legal property owner or an approved agent acting on their behalf.

2. Proof of Primary Residence (for owner-occupied STRs in certain districts)

  1. The property must be the owner's primary residence for STRs located in R-1, R-2, R-3, and U zoning districts.
  2. Applicants must provide at least two documents showing the STR address, such as a driver's license, voter registration card, or tax records.

3. Floor Plan Sketch

  1. A detailed sketch or floorplan of the STR property is required.
  2. It must show room dimensions, exits, and the locations of all smoke detectors.

4. Proof of Liability Insurance

  1. STR owners must provide proof of liability insurance that specifically covers short-term rental use of the property.
  2. The insurance policy should be in the property owner's name, and the STR address should be listed.

5. Local Contact Person Information

  • If the STR owner is not available to respond to any issues that may arise, they must designate a local contact person.
  • The name, address, and 24/7 phone number for this local contact must be provided.
  • The contact person should be able to respond to any problems within 30 minutes.

6. Property Use Certification Form

  • This form certifies that the STR property meets all applicable zoning, building, and safety codes.
  • It must be signed by the property owner or approved agent.

7. Smoke Detector Certification Form

  • STR owners must certify that the property has working smoke detectors installed in accordance with local fire safety codes.
  • The locations of the smoke detectors should match the floorplan sketch.

In addition to these required documents, STR permit applicants must also pay a non-refundable application fee. As of 2023, the fee is $50 for new permits and $25 for renewals of existing permits.

All documents and fees must be submitted together as a complete application package. Incomplete applications will not be processed until all required elements are provided.

Once issued, the STR permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance. The permit number must be prominently displayed on all online listings and advertisements for the rental property.

To renew an STR permit, owners must submit an updated application, renewal fee, and any documents that have expired or changed since the original application. There is no automatic renewal process, so owners must ensure their permits remain current.

By requiring these documents as part of the STR permit process, the City of Oneonta aims to protect the safety of renters and ensure that short-term rental properties are operated responsibly in accordance with local laws. Failure to obtain a permit or to comply with STR regulations can result in significant fines and legal penalties.

Oneonta Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental operators in Oneonta, New York, are subject to several state and local taxes. It's important for hosts to understand and comply with these tax obligations to avoid penalties and legal issues.

At the state level, New York imposes a sales tax on all short-term rentals. As of 2024, the state sales tax rate is 4%, which applies to the total rental amount, including any cleaning fees or other charges. STR hosts are responsible for collecting this tax from guests and remitting it to the state.

In addition to the state sales tax, Otsego County, where Oneonta is located, levies a hotel occupancy tax, also known as a "bed tax." In 2021, the Otsego County Board of Representatives voted to increase this tax from 4% to 5%.

The occupancy tax applies to all short-term rentals, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

Airbnb and some other short-term rental booking platforms automatically collect and remit the Otsego County occupancy tax on behalf of hosts. However, it's still the host's responsibility to collect and pay the correct amount. For platforms that don't offer this service, hosts must collect the tax from guests and remit it directly to the county.

The City of Oneonta does not currently impose any additional local taxes on short-term rentals beyond the state and county taxes. However, this could change in the future as the city continues to develop its STR regulations.

It's worth noting that short-term rental income is also subject to federal and state income taxes. Hosts must report their rental income on their annual tax returns and pay the appropriate taxes. Certain expenses related to operating the STR, such as cleaning fees, supplies, and a portion of utilities and maintenance costs, may be tax-deductible.

To ensure full tax compliance, Oneonta STR hosts should:

  • Register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for a sales tax certificate of authority
  • Collect the 4% state sales tax from guests on all rental transactions
  • Collect the 5% Otsego County occupancy tax from guests if not automatically collected by the rental platform
  • Remit collected taxes to the appropriate state and county agencies on time
  • Keep detailed records of all rental income and expenses for income tax purposes
  • Consult with a tax professional for guidance on their specific tax situation

Failure to comply with STR tax obligations can result in audits, fines, and legal penalties. Oneonta short-term rental hosts can avoid costly mistakes and operate their businesses responsibly by staying informed and proactive about tax requirements.

New York Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to the specific regulations in New York City, state-wide rules apply to short-term rentals across New York. These state laws provide a framework for local governments to follow and enforce.

The primary state law governing short-term rentals is the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. This law distinguishes between two main types of dwellings:

  • "Class A" multiple dwellings, which include apartment buildings, co-ops, and condominiums that are occupied for permanent residence purposes (30 days or more). Short-term rentals of less than 30 days are generally prohibited in these buildings unless the host is present during the guest's stay.
  • "Class B" multiple dwellings, which include hotels, boarding houses, and other dwellings that are occupied transiently or for less than 30 days at a time. Short-term rentals are allowed in these types of buildings.

The Multiple Dwelling Law essentially means that renting out a unit for less than 30 days in most residential apartment buildings is illegal unless the host is present during the guest's stay. This is meant to protect the permanent residents of these buildings from the potential negative impacts of short-term rentals, such as noise, safety concerns, and a revolving door of strangers.

In 2016, New York State also passed a law that prohibits the advertising of illegal short-term rentals. This means that hosts cannot list a rental that violates the Multiple Dwelling Law, even if the rental does not occur. Fines for violating this advertising ban can range from $1,000 to $7,500 per listing.

At the state level, there are also tax implications for short-term rentals. Rentals of less than 90 days are subject to state and local sales taxes, which can range from 8% to 15%, depending on the jurisdiction. Hosts are responsible for collecting and remitting these taxes to the appropriate authorities.

It's important to note that while these state laws provide a baseline, local governments can impose additional restrictions or requirements on top of them. For example, some cities like Buffalo and Rochester have implemented their own short-term rental registration systems and safety requirements.

New York State has also faced legal challenges to its short-term rental laws. In 2020, a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing part of the Multiple Dwelling Law against Airbnb, arguing that it violated the Communications Decency Act. However, this ruling only applied to Airbnb and not to individual hosts, who can still face penalties for illegal rentals.

Overall, the state-wide rules in New York aim to balance allowing short-term rentals in appropriate circumstances while protecting permanent housing stock and the rights of long-term residents. Hosts must carefully navigate state and local regulations to ensure they operate legally and responsibly.

As the short-term rental market continues to evolve, it's likely that these rules will also continue to be debated and refined over time. Hosts should stay informed about any updates or changes to the laws that could impact their business.

Does Oneonta Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions in online short-term rental forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit, it appears that the City of Oneonta does actively enforce its STR regulations, but perhaps not as aggressively as some larger cities. While Oneonta is not as strict as major metros like New York City or San Francisco, it is not a completely hands-off environment for Airbnb hosts either.

Several BiggerPockets members who operate STRs in Oneonta reported that the city does require permits and will issue fines for non-compliance. One host wrote, "The city definitely checks for permit numbers on Airbnb listings. I got a warning letter when I first started because I didn't have my permit posted."

Another Oneonta host on Reddit shared, "I had a neighbor complain about my Airbnb guests, and the city followed up with an inspection. They're not out there actively hunting down STRs, but they will respond to complaints and violations."

However, Oneonta is relatively Airbnb-friendly compared to larger cities with more stringent regulations. The city allows STRs in most residential zones as long as the host obtains a permit and follows the rules. In contrast, some major cities have banned non-owner-occupied STRs entirely or implemented caps on the number of rental days per year.

A BiggerPockets user said, "Oneonta is a college town, so there's demand for short-term rentals. The city has found a middle ground with its regulations - they're not so lax that it's a free-for-all, but not so strict that it's impossible to operate an STR legally."

That being said, some hosts are likely operating under the radar without permits, either intentionally or out of ignorance of the rules. A Reddit commenter noted, "I'm sure there are some unpermitted STRs out there, but the city is small enough that it's risky. Word gets around, and the fines can add up quickly."

Overall, while Oneonta may not be the easiest place to operate an Airbnb compared to cities with no regulations, it is far from the most restrictive. Hosts who follow the permitting process and operate responsibly can find a workable environment in Oneonta. The city seems to prioritize safety and neighborhood quality of life, but not at the total exclusion of STRs.

The key takeaway from online host discussions is that Oneonta's STR enforcement is active but not draconian. Hosts should absolutely obtain a permit and follow the rules, but the city is not out to eliminate short-term rentals entirely. With due diligence and good neighbor practices, Airbnb hosting is viable in Oneonta.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Oneonta

If you're considering starting a short-term rental (STR) business in Oneonta, New York, here are the key steps to follow:

1. Research the local market and regulations:

  • Analyze the demand for STRs in Oneonta, especially near SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. Look at comparable listings on Airbnb and VRBO to gauge pricing, occupancy rates, and amenities offered. You can even use short-term rental calculators to help you out.
  • Carefully review Oneonta's STR ordinance and zoning requirements. Determine if your property is eligible for an STR permit based on its location and your residency status.

2. Prepare your property:

  • Ensure your rental property is safe, clean, and well-maintained. Make any necessary repairs or upgrades to meet building and fire safety codes.
  • Furnish and decorate the space to be attractive and comfortable for guests. Consider hiring a professional photographer to showcase your rental.
  • Install required safety features like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.

3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses:

  • Apply for a Short-Term Rental Permit from the Oneonta Code Enforcement Office. Submit all required documents, including proof of residency (if applicable), floor plan sketch, proof of liability insurance, and local contact information.
  • Obtain a New York State sales tax certificate of authority from the Department of Taxation and Finance.
  • Register your trade name with the Otsego County Clerk's Office if you plan to operate under a business name.

4. Set up your business operations:

  • Choose a business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) and open a separate bank account for your rental business.
  • Set up a system for managing bookings, guest communication, cleaning, and maintenance. Consider using vacation rental software to automate tasks.
  • Determine your pricing strategy based on market research, seasonality, and operating costs. Factor in any additional fees, such as cleaning or extra guest charges.

5. List your property and start marketing:

6. Manage your bookings and guests:

  1. Respond promptly to booking inquiries and guest questions. Provide clear check-in instructions and house rules.
  2. Arrange for cleaning and turnover between guests by hiring a professional service or doing it yourself.
  3. Be available to address any guest issues or emergencies during their stay. Ensure your designated local contact is prepared to assist if you cannot be present.

7. Comply with ongoing regulations and taxes:

  1. Renew your Oneonta STR permit annually and keep your property in compliance with all city requirements.
  2. Collect and remit the 4% New York State sales tax and 5% Otsego County occupancy tax on all rental transactions.
  3. Keep accurate records of all rental income and expenses for tax purposes. Consider working with a tax professional to ensure proper reporting and deductions.

By following these steps and staying informed about local regulations, you can launch a successful short-term rental business in Oneonta. While the city does enforce its STR rules, it is generally possible to operate legally and profitably with the right preparation and approach.

Who to Contact in Oneonta about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about short-term rental regulations and zoning in Oneonta, New York, the best resource to contact is the City of Oneonta Code Enforcement Office. This department is responsible for administering and enforcing the city's building codes, zoning ordinances, and rental housing regulations, including the Short-Term Rental (STR) ordinance.

Contact information for the Oneonta Code Enforcement Office:

Address: 258 Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
Phone: (607) 433-3435
Email: CodeEnforcement@oneonta.ny.us
Website: https://www.oneonta.ny.us/code-enforcement
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm

The Code Enforcement Office can assist with:

  1. Questions about the city's STR ordinance and permit requirements
  2. Zoning inquiries to determine if a property is eligible for an STR permit
  3. Building and fire safety code requirements for short-term rentals
  4. Complaints or violations related to STRs
  5. Applying for or renewing an STR permit
  6. Scheduling inspections for STR properties

If you are unsure whether your property is zoned for short-term rentals, you can also contact the City of Oneonta Planning Department:

Address: 258 Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
Phone: (607) 432-0114
Email: CityPlanner@oneonta.ny.us
Website: https://www.oneonta.ny.us/planning-department
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm

The Planning Department can help with:

  1. Zoning maps and district information
  2. Land use and development regulations
  3. Special use permits or variances for STRs in certain zones
  4. Long-range planning and potential zoning changes affecting STRs

For questions about New York State or Otsego County taxes on short-term rentals, contact:

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Sales Tax Information Center: (518) 485-2889
Website: https://www.tax.ny.gov/


Otsego County Treasurer's Office
Address: 197 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326
Phone: (607) 547-4268
Email: TreasurerWeb@otsegocounty.com
Website: https://www.otsegocounty.com/departments/treasurer/

Remember that while these official sources can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information about STR regulations, connecting with experienced local hosts and property managers can also be helpful. Joining online forums or local host groups can provide valuable insights into the practical realities of operating a short-term rental in Oneonta.

Regardless of the source, always verify any information against the city's official ordinances and regulations to ensure full compliance. Staying proactive and informed is key to running a successful and legal STR business in Oneonta.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Oneonta on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

To get a sense of what short-term rental hosts in Oneonta think about the city's regulations, let's look at some discussions on popular online forums like Reddit and BiggerPockets:

Reddit - r/AirBnB - "Oneonta, NY STR Regulations"

In this thread, a prospective host asks for advice on navigating Oneonta's short-term rental rules. Several current hosts chime in with their experiences. One host mentions that while the permit process is straightforward, the city does enforce occupancy limits and noise complaints. Another notes that the annual permit fee can eat into profits for smaller operations.

BiggerPockets Forum - "Oneonta, NY Short-Term Rental Ordinance"

This discussion focuses on the specifics of Oneonta's STR ordinance, including the different requirements for owner-occupied vs. non-owner-occupied rentals. Hosts debate whether the regulations are too strict or a reasonable compromise. Some argue that the rules help preserve neighborhood character, while others feel they unfairly restrict property rights.

Reddit - r/realestateinvesting - "Investing in Oneonta, NY Airbnbs"

In this post, an investor asks about the potential for short-term rental investments in Oneonta, given the city's regulations. Commenters with experience in the market weigh in, noting that while there is demand from college visitors, the permit requirements and zoning restrictions can limit the pool of viable properties. They recommend thoroughly researching the regulations before buying an STR property.

BiggerPockets Forum - "Oneonta, NY STR Permit Denied"

Here, a host shares their story of having their STR permit application denied due to zoning issues. Other hosts offer advice on appealing the decision or finding alternative properties. The general consensus is that understanding the zoning code is crucial for STR success in Oneonta.

Reddit - r/hostanexperience - "Oneonta, NY Host Meetup"

This post is from a host looking to connect with other STR operators in Oneonta to share experiences and tips. In the comments, hosts discuss the importance of staying informed about local regulations and being proactive in communicating with the city and neighbors. They also share strategies for marketing and managing their rentals within the confines of the city's rules.

Overall, the sentiment among Oneonta hosts on these forums seems to be that while the city's STR regulations present some challenges, they are not insurmountable for responsible operators. Hosts emphasize the importance of due diligence in understanding the rules, selecting the right property, and managing the rental professionally.

Many hosts appreciate that Oneonta has tried to strike a balance between allowing STRs and preserving neighborhood quality of life, even if they don't agree with every aspect of the ordinance. The general advice is to work within the system, communicate openly with the city and neighbors, and run a tight ship to avoid complaints or violations.

As one BiggerPockets user put it, "Oneonta's STR rules aren't the easiest, but they're also not the worst. If you do your homework, play by the book, and provide a great experience for your guests, you can still run a successful Airbnb here. It just takes a bit more effort than in some other markets."

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.