New Fairfield looks to regulate Airbnb rentals


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Like many towns across the country, New Fairfield will explore how Airbnb — the online marketplace that allows people to rent their homes or spare rooms — will fit into its existing rules on short-terms rentals. A public hearing on the issue will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of the town’s Zoning Commission.

“We’re doing a preliminary public hearing as more of a discussion to see all spectrums of people for them, against them and what are the issues, so that we can start piecing a regulation together,” said Evan White, the town zoning official.

Right now, only bed and breakfasts, which require a special permit, are defined in New Fairfield’s regulations, not Airbnbs, White said. This has made it difficult for officials to address an onslaught of the Airbnb rentals this year, which have shown up mostly in communities around Candlewood Lake.

The Airbnb rentals have often brought much larger groups than advertised, put a strain on septic systems or left a mess at the house or neighborhood, White said.

“The issue is not having a transient definition, you get people who come just one or two nights and who don’t really take care of the property,” White said.

The challenge will be balancing restrictions on Airbnbs with the town’s tradition of renting its lakeside properties, White said. So far, he said officials are leaning toward adding Airbnbs to the regulations in a way that would require a seven-night minimum for any stay.

“It’s a little difficult,” he said. “We still want to keep good with all the summer rentals that have been going on forever.”


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