Vacation rental data shows full scope of market in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — This village has 80 short-term vacation rental properties with a total of 120 online listings, new data from short-term rental data collection company Rentalscape shows.

The new data from Rentalscape is the first official count of vacation rental properties within village limits that includes listings from sites like Airbnb and Vrbo as well as local companies like Adirondack by Owner.

The village board is considering introducing a permit system for vacation rentals. Some residents have complained about the number of vacation rentals here, fearing that the properties might affect the aesthetics of the village, and that landlords might be converting apartments to vacation units thus reducing the number of apartments for long-term renters.

The village’s permit proposal has been controversial. Some vacation rental owners have said they believe it would infringe on their rights, while those in favor of rental regulations want the village to do more to restrict “absentee owners.” Some village trustees hopes regulations would improve Saranac Lake’s housing shortage.

Data from AirDNA, a free vacation rental tracking service, shows that since 2018 the number of vacation rentals in the Saranac Lake area — not just the village — has risen gradually, by around 30 rentals.

“The trend line in general … that number has been increasing over time,” village Community Development Director Jamie Konkoski said.

But AirDNA information is not specific enough for the village’s purposes, according to Konkoski. Listings are not tied to addresses within the village boundary, there’s always extra properties, and its data only provides an approximation, Konkoski said. This is why the village purchased the Rentalscape software for $7,500.

Full report coming

Konkoski said she is still waiting on the results of the full Rentalscape report with the “final layer” of information. This report will include information on what types of vacation rentals are in the village — owner-occupied or investment properties, main structures or secondary units — as well as their addresses and distribution through the neighborhoods.

Some of this data is being collected manually, she said.

Konkoski said as soon as this data is available she’ll create a report for the village and turn it in for discussion by the village board. She plans to meet with a Rentalscape representative next week.

Housing workgroup

At a board meeting on Monday, Trustee Melinda Little said she will ask the village housing workgroup to reconvene soon to discuss the new data and fine-tune its public outreach plan, which she said should be complete by September.

Little said the group will make an effort to get feedback from renters, a demographic some members of the public pointed out have not been consulted yet.

If the village chooses to regulate STRs it would use Rentalscape to monitor rentals, enforce its permit system and keep units in compliance with the rules.

The village board has proposed a $100 or $200 annual permit fee for vacation rental registration.

To get a permit, a property owner may have to provide information like an emergency contact, a parking plan, a copy of the deed and proof of homeowner insurance. They may also have to sign an affidavit that the property meets health and safety standards, register the rental with the county to ensure occupancy tax is collected and agree to village rules on quiet hours, garbage storage and occupancy numbers.


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