How the Town of North Elba, NY Works With Short-Term Rentals on the Shores of Lake Placid
The Town of North Elba is about 300 miles north of New York City. While you may not have heard of North Elba before, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of its most famous lake: Lake Placid. Yes, nestled in this quiet town within Essex County is the site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, which is still the home of several US Olympic training facilities.
During and after the pandemic of 2020, it also became home to many residents who decided to leave the crowded confines of larger cities to seek permanent and supplement income properties on the bucolic shores of Lake Placid.
We sat down to talk with Michael A. Orticelle, MPA, who is the Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Official for the Lake Placid/North Elba Building Department about what the rise in short-term rentals (STRs) means for the community, and how his team uses GovOS to better work with property owners.
Town of North Elba, NY
Michael A. Orticelle, MPA
Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Official
What got your STR project started?
In 2020, the Town of North Elba initiated a law to curb the impact of short-term rentals. At that time, the number of short-term rentals was rising rapidly, so the Town made it mandatory for anyone wanting to rent their property to get a permit and start paying a bed tax, determined by the number of bedrooms being rented at the residence.
Permit costs are based on the number of bedrooms you wish to rent and are good for two years. After the second year, we reevaluate and factor in complaints or other issues. In addition to acquiring a permit, the property owner is required to provide a 24-hour point of contact who must be available to respond at any time, day or night.
How did your team respond to accommodate this new law?
We started by trying to roll out Host Compliance from Granicus, but we had a lot of issues with their customer service. Sometimes it would take three or more weeks for them to reply to an email from us. When we found GovOS, your products had more bells and whistles at a better price point.
What’s been the result of using GovOS?
We started with GovOS Business Licensing to give our property owners an online portal where they could quickly and easily apply for their permits and provide their primary point of contact. These submissions were stored in our Business Licensing portal giving us a sortable and searchable database of every property owner and their primary contact person at each property. On top of Business Licensing, we began using GovOS STR to solve two main problems: monitoring rental dates and handling complaints.
How are you using GovOS STR to monitor rental dates?
Short-term rentals in North Elba can only be made available a certain number of days of a calendar year. Using GovOS STR, we can scrape the calendars of rental properties to see how many days they are making the property available. We can’t tell if those dates are actual rentals, so it’s not 100% enforceable, but we can still reach out to a property owner if we see they’re offering more than their allotted number of rental dates in a given year.
How are you using GovOS STR to handle complaints?
Collecting and reviewing citizen complaints has been the most beneficial feature of GovOS STR. Every complaint first goes through the STR platform, then comes to my team via email. We review each one and decide whether it requires attention from the property owner, the town, or local law enforcement. At the very least, we and the property owner can help put eyes on the situation and determine how serious it is.
Since implementing this new system, we’ve had very few serious complaints, and we’ve only had to fine one property owner who didn’t comply over time and didn’t vet clients very well.
Ready to see how the GovOS STR Solution works for communities across the U.S.?