Utica, New York Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Utica, New York

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What are Short-Term Rental (Airbnb, VRBO) Regulations in Utica, New York?

Short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly popular in Utica, NY. However, the city has specific regulations in place that hosts need to be aware of before listing their property.

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Utica

The City of Utica defines a short-term rental as "the rental or lease of any dwelling unit or dwelling, for a period of 30 days or less". Short-term rentals are allowed in certain zoning districts, but require a permit:

  • In CBD (Central Business District), UMU (Urban Mixed-Use), and NMU (Neighborhood Mixed-Use) zones, short-term rentals are allowed with just a Department Review.
  • In RM (Residential Mixed) zones, short-term rentals require a Special Use Permit and Site Plan Review.
  • Short-term rentals are prohibited in R1 (Residential Single) zones.

To get a short-term rental permit in Utica, the host must be a permanent occupant and either the owner or a tenant with a lease that allows subletting. The host must be present during guest stays and can host a maximum of two paying guests at a time.

All rooms must have unobstructed access and internal doors cannot have key locks, to ensure emergency egress. The property must also be maintained in a safe, code-compliant condition.

Vacation rental hosts in Utica will soon need to register with the city, similar to the new law taking effect in New York City in 2023. Booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO will be required to verify the registration before processing any transactions.

Some Utica real estate investors on forums like Bigger Pockets have expressed interest in buying properties to operate as short-term rentals. However, they note the importance of understanding local regulations and market conditions before purchasing.

In summary, while short-term rentals are allowed in parts of Utica, hosts must follow the city's specific permitting and operational requirements. As regulations continue to evolve, it's critical for hosts to stay informed of the latest ordinances and zoning codes that apply to their property. Consulting with local property managers experienced in short-term rentals can also help navigate the process.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Utica

The City of Utica requires all short-term rental hosts to obtain a permit before listing their property on platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. Here are the key requirements based on the city's official zoning code:

1. Short-term rental permits are only allowed in certain zoning districts:

  1. In CBD (Central Business District), UMU (Urban Mixed-Use), and NMU (Neighborhood Mixed-Use) zones, a Department Review is required.
  2. In RM (Residential Mixed) zones, a Special Use Permit and Site Plan Review are required.
  3. Short-term rentals are prohibited in R1 (Residential Single) zones.

2. The host must be a permanent occupant and either the property owner or a tenant with a lease that allows subletting.

3. The host must be present during guest stays. A maximum of two paying guests are allowed at a time.

4. All rooms must have unobstructed access. Internal doors cannot have key locks to ensure emergency egress.

5. The property must be maintained in a safe, code-compliant condition.

To apply for a short-term rental permit, hosts need to submit the following to the City of Utica's Department of Urban & Economic Development:

  1. Completed application form
  2. Proof of ownership or a copy of the lease allowing subletting
  3. Floorplan showing guest rooms and means of egress
  4. Permit fee (amount not specified in the available information)

The city conducts an inspection of the property before issuing the permit. The typical processing time is not mentioned, but hosts should apply well in advance of their intended start date.

Operating a short-term rental without a permit can result in fines and penalties. While the specific amounts are not detailed, the zoning code states that violations are subject to fines, imprisonment, or community service.

It's important to note that short-term rental regulations in Utica may be updated in the near future. Vacation rental hosts will soon be required to register with the city, similar to the law taking effect in New York City in 2023. Booking platforms will need to verify the registration before processing transactions.

In summary, obtaining the proper licensing is a critical step for Utica hosts before listing their property as a short-term rental. Carefully review the city's requirements and submit a complete permit application to avoid fines and ensure compliance with local regulations.

Required Documents for Utica Short-Term Rentals

To apply for a short-term rental permit in Utica, NY, hosts need to submit the following documents to the City's Department of Urban & Economic Development:

1. Completed Application Form

  1. This form collects key information about the host, property, and intended use as a short-term rental.
  2. The application form is available from the Department of Urban & Economic Development.

2. Proof of Ownership or Copy of Lease

  1. If the host is the property owner, they must provide a copy of the deed or other proof of ownership.
  2. If the host is a tenant, they must provide a copy of their lease showing that subletting is allowed.

3. Floorplan Showing Guest Rooms and Egress

  1. The floorplan must clearly label the rooms intended for guest use.
  2. It must show unobstructed access and means of emergency egress from each room.
  3. Internal doors cannot have key locks that could impede egress.

4. Permit Fee

  1. Hosts must pay a permit fee when submitting their application.
  2. The specific fee amount is not provided in the available zoning code and ordinance documents.

In addition to these required documents, the property is subject to an inspection by the city before the short-term rental permit is issued. The inspection ensures the property is safe and code-compliant for guest use.

It's important for hosts to carefully review the City of Utica's requirements and gather all necessary documents before submitting their permit application. Incomplete applications or properties not up to code may be denied a permit.

As short-term rental regulations can change, hosts should consult the City of Utica's official website or contact the Department of Urban & Economic Development for the most current requirements and document checklist.

Utica Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental hosts in Utica, NY are subject to several types of taxes:

1. New York State Sales Tax

  1. The current New York State sales tax rate is 4%.
  2. This tax applies to all short-term rentals of less than 90 consecutive days.

2. Oneida County Sales Tax

  1. Oneida County, where Utica is located, has an additional 4.75% sales tax.
  2. Combined with the state sales tax, this means a total of 8.75% in sales taxes apply to short-term rentals in Utica.

3. City of Utica Sales Tax

The City of Utica does not impose any additional sales taxes beyond the state and county rates.

4. Hotel Room Occupancy Tax

  • In addition to sales taxes, some cities and counties in New York charge a Hotel Room Occupancy Tax on short-term rentals.
  • However, specific information on whether this tax applies in Utica was not found in the provided search results. Hosts should check with the city to determine if they are subject to this tax.

Short-term rental hosts in Utica are required to collect these taxes from their guests and remit them to the proper tax authorities. They must register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and file regular tax returns, even for periods with no rental income.

Failing to comply with short-term rental tax laws can result in penalties, interest, and legal action. Hosts can take advantage of voluntary disclosure agreements (VDAs) to disclose prior tax liabilities and potentially have penalties waived.

Possible Tax Deductions

Short-term rental hosts may be able to deduct certain expenses from their rental income to reduce their tax liability:

  • Depreciation of the rental property over 27.5 years
  • Cost segregation studies to accelerate depreciation
  • Furniture and equipment used in the rental
  • Cleaning and maintenance fees
  • Marketing and advertising costs
  • Home office expenses, if part of the home is used exclusively for rental management

It's important for hosts to keep detailed records and consult with a tax professional to ensure they are complying with all tax requirements and claiming the proper deductions. Understanding and staying current with local short-term rental regulations is also critical for Utica hosts.

New York Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to Utica's specific regulations, short-term rental hosts in the city must also comply with New York State laws and proposed legislation that could impact their operations:

  • New York State Multiple Dwelling Law: This law prohibits renting out an entire apartment in a building with three or more units for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is present during the guest's stay.
  • New York State Sales Tax: Short-term rentals are subject to the 4% state sales tax on stays of less than 90 consecutive days.
  • Proposed Statewide Registration: Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy are sponsoring bills to create New York's first statewide registry for short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo. If passed, this would require hosts across the state, including in Utica, to register their properties every two years. The goal is to bring more oversight and transparency to the rapidly growing short-term rental industry.
  • Occupancy Taxes: While Utica's specific occupancy tax rules for short-term rentals are unclear, the proposed state legislation would allow counties to tax short-term rentals similar to hotels. This could mean additional occupancy taxes for Utica hosts in the future.
  • Safety Requirements: There are calls for statewide regulations to ensure the health and safety of both short-term rental guests and residents. While details are limited, hosts may need to meet certain property standards and provide transparent contact information.

It's crucial for Utica short-term rental hosts to stay informed about both local and state-level regulations. The regulatory landscape is evolving, with a push for more comprehensive rules to address housing affordability, community impacts, and a level playing field with traditional lodging providers. Consulting with local officials and professional associations can help hosts ensure compliance with current and upcoming requirements.

Does Utica Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions in real estate investing forums like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, it appears that Utica takes a relatively lenient approach to enforcing short-term rental regulations compared to other cities in New York. While Utica does have specific zoning and permitting requirements for STRs, many hosts seem to operate without full compliance.

On the Bigger Pockets forums, investors note that Utica provides profitable opportunities for both traditional and Airbnb rental properties. They highlight appealing neighborhoods and discuss strategies for maximizing returns. The overall sentiment is that Utica is an Airbnb-friendly market, with fewer barriers to entry than larger cities.

Similarly, Reddit threads about investing in Utica rentals suggest that the city is not overly strict about cracking down on STR violations. Commenters share anecdotes about running Airbnbs without permits and not facing any consequences. They contrast this to the much tougher stances taken by cities like New York, which has shuttered a large percentage of Airbnb listings.

However, this does not mean Utica STR hosts can operate with impunity. The city's zoning code clearly states that short-term rentals require permits in most districts, with fines and penalties possible for violations. While enforcement may be inconsistent, the risk of getting caught is real.

In summary, Utica appears to be a relatively Airbnb-friendly city compared to other parts of New York. Many hosts do operate STRs despite not being fully compliant with local regulations. But rather than interpreting Utica's lax enforcement as a free pass, hosts should still make every effort to follow the city's STR rules. Consulting with local experts can help navigate the complexities and reduce the chances of facing penalties down the road.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Utica

Starting a short-term rental business in Utica, NY can be a profitable venture, but it's important to follow the proper steps to ensure compliance with local regulations and set yourself up for success. Here's a step-by-step guide:

1. Research Utica's Short-Term Rental Regulations

  • Review the city's zoning code to determine if short-term rentals are allowed in your property's district and what permit is required:
    - CBD, UMU, NMU zones: Department Review
    - RM zone: Special Use Permit and Site Plan Review
    - R1 zone: Prohibited
  • Understand the city's definition of a short-term rental: "the rental or lease of any dwelling unit or dwelling, for a period of 30 days or less, to one entity"
  • Stay updated on proposed statewide registration requirements that could impact Utica hosts in the future

2. Develop a Business Plan

  • Outline your target market, pricing strategy, financial projections, and operational processes
  • Determine if you will self-manage or hire a property management company
  • Research the local short-term rental market to ensure your plan is competitive and viable

3. Prepare Your Property

  • Ensure the space is safe, code-compliant, and guest-ready with furniture, amenities, and decor that will appeal to your target market
  • Consider hiring a professional design and staging service to make your listing stand out
  • Invest in high-quality photos that showcase your property's best features

4. Obtain Required Permits and Licenses

  • Apply for the appropriate permit with Utica's Department of Urban & Economic Development
  • Provide proof of ownership or a lease allowing subletting, a floorplan showing egress, and pay the permit fee
  • Obtain a New York State business license and register to collect and remit sales taxes

5. Create Your Listing

  • Choose a catchy title and write a compelling description that highlights your property's unique selling points
  • Set competitive rates based on market research, considering dynamic pricing tools to optimize revenue
  • Sync your calendar across booking platforms to avoid double bookings

6. Implement Operational Processes

  • Establish a system for cleaning, restocking supplies, and conducting maintenance between guests
  • Provide clear check-in instructions and house rules to ensure a smooth stay
  • Be responsive to guest inquiries and prioritize communication to achieve high ratings

7. Market Your Listing

  • Optimize your listing with high-ranking keywords and professional photos
  • Encourage satisfied guests to leave reviews, which boost your search placement and credibility
  • Consider social media advertising or promotions to stand out in the competitive Utica market

While Utica is relatively lenient in enforcing short-term rental regulations compared to other New York cities, it's crucial to comply with all permitting and operational requirements. By following these steps, conducting thorough research, and delivering an exceptional guest experience, you can launch a successful short-term rental business in Utica.

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

For questions about short-term rental regulations, zoning requirements, permits, or the application process in Utica, contact:

City of Utica Department of Urban & Economic Development
1 Kennedy Plaza
Utica, NY 13502
Phone: (315) 792-0181

You can also reach out directly to:

Brian Thomas, Commissioner
Department of Urban & Economic Development
Phone: (315) 792-0181

The City of Utica Planning Board reviews and approves applications for short-term rental permits. They meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 4:30 PM in the Common Council Chambers of City Hall. For questions about the Planning Board process, contact them at (315) 792-0181.

The City of Utica's website provides information on the zoning code, permit applications, and Planning Board meeting schedules:

  1. Zoning Code:
  2. Planning Board:
  3. Zoning Board of Appeals:

Local short-term rental hosts in Utica may also find the following resources and communities helpful:

Utica, NY Real Estate Investing group on BiggerPockets:

Hosts discuss local regulations, property management, and investing strategies.

Utica, NY Airbnb Hosts Facebook group:

A community for Utica hosts to share experiences, ask questions, and stay updated on local short-term rental news.

Awning Vacation Rental Management:

A short-term rental management company serving Utica that can assist hosts with compliance, bookings, and property management.

By contacting city officials, reviewing zoning and permit information, and connecting with local host communities, short-term rental operators in Utica can ensure they are following all necessary regulations and maximizing the success of their rental business.

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

While there are limited discussions specifically about Utica's short-term rental regulations on Reddit and BiggerPockets, some insights can be gleaned from hosts' experiences in similar cities:

In a Reddit thread about affordable rental housing in Utica and Rome, one commenter warned against renting at The Lofts at Globe Mill, stating "insider info has them shutting down" due to terrible management and awful conditions. This suggests some Utica rentals may not meet the city's standards for short-term rentals.

On the BiggerPockets forums, a real estate investor discussed house hacking multifamily properties in New York City. They noted that due to the high cost of properties and strict regulations like the ban that shuttered 80% of NYC Airbnbs, house hacking short-term rentals is very challenging in major metropolitan areas. While Utica is more affordable than NYC, this illustrates how municipal regulations can significantly impact the viability of Airbnb investments.

Another Reddit thread debated whether New Hampshire should follow New York City's lead in shutting down a large percentage of Airbnbs to improve housing affordability. Commenters argued that Airbnbs are often owned by corporations rather than individuals and that closing loopholes that allow short-term rentals in areas not zoned for hotels could help tourist towns. This sentiment could gain traction in Utica as the city considers further regulations.

Lastly, a BiggerPockets thread discussed the challenges of legally renting to multiple college students in Lubbock, Texas, due to an ordinance restricting the number of unrelated occupants. The original poster noted that while many landlords violate the rule, getting caught could lead to serious issues. This highlights the risks of operating short-term rentals that don't fully comply with local regulations, even in more lenient markets than Utica.

While these examples are not specific to Utica, they provide context on how short-term rental operators view and navigate local regulations. As Utica considers implementing new rules like a permit requirement and occupancy limits, hosts will need to stay informed and adapt their business models to remain compliant. Engaging with local officials and connecting with other Utica hosts through online forums and meetups can help navigate the evolving regulatory landscape.

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.