The state has been flooded with new, individual rentals available on the mass marketing machine. This brings people to restaurants, shops, boat rides and other services. A blessing for all those businesses. The state (at least in the past three years) has collected taxes from these rentals. A blessing for the state.

I understand that the state has no interest in regulating short-term rentals (like Airbnb) and is leaving it to the towns. Each town then struggles individually with their set of rules and regulations. How, then, are these enforced?

Bed-and-breakfasts with three or more units have to be licensed and inspected by the state, which includes water testing. There is no law that says you can’t buy and rent multiple short-term rental units and put them under different names, bypassing state requirements.

As small-business owners who have had six cottages licensed by the state for the past 36 years, we have felt the negative impact of the flooding of the market with unlicensed, uninspected rentals. A curse! Other curses would be housing shortages, lack of available help and neighborhood disruption.

This brings up the greatest concern: that for the customer. Without any oversight, who protects them? Their biggest question is “Do you have Wi-Fi?” They never think to ask: “Is the water safe?” or “Is there a functioning fire and carbon monoxide alarm?” Do we have to wait for a catastrophic event to happen before something is done?

Donna McNelly

Sea Escape Cottages

Bailey Island

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