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

Waterford, New York

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Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Waterford

If you're considering starting a short-term rental business using platforms like Airbnb or VRBO in Waterford, New York, it's important to be aware of the local regulations. The town of Waterford has specific zoning laws and ordinances that govern short-term rentals.

In July 2023, the Waterford Select Board adopted new short-term rental regulations in the form of a zoning by-law. The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure that residential real estate is used in a manner that protects public health, safety, and welfare.

Some key provisions of Waterford's short-term rental regulations include:

  • Short-term rentals are only allowed in owner-occupied properties
  • Rentals are limited to a total of 30 days per year
  • Properties must be registered with the town and inspected for fire safety, similar to hotels
  • Owners must pay a registration fee and rental tax

These rules were enacted in response to concerns from residents about issues like excessive noise, parking problems, trespassing, and safety risks from a high volume of short-term guests in residential neighborhoods.

One luxury property on Waterview Drive became a focal point in the short-term rental debate. Residents complained to town officials about the large groups renting the 15,000 square foot home, which was listed on Airbnb for $2,500 per night. However, the town attorney stated that Waterford's existing zoning regulations did not specifically address short-term rentals.

Waterford is not alone in grappling with how to regulate the booming short-term rental industry. When New York City banned rentals under 30 days in September 2023, an estimated 15,000 Airbnb landlords suddenly lost rental income. Other New York towns like Waterford also changed their rules, leading to an influx of former Airbnb properties on the market.

The profitability of short-term rentals compared to long-term tenants has fueled the growth of Airbnbs. One analysis found that a single private room on Airbnb could generate €1,764 per month, far exceeding typical rents. Critics argue that these financial incentives are taking properties off the market that could otherwise provide much-needed housing.

If you want to legally operate a short-term rental in Waterford, make sure to carefully review the town's zoning ordinance and comply with all registration, inspection, and tax requirements. With the proper planning and adherence to local regulations, an Airbnb can still be a viable business opportunity. However, expect increasing scrutiny and potential further restrictions as communities try to strike a balance between the rights of property owners and the concerns of long-term residents.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Waterford

To legally operate a short-term rental in the Town of Waterford, New York, property owners must obtain a conditional land use permit from the Development Review Board. The licensing process is governed by the town's short-term rental ordinance, which was adopted in July 2023.

Key requirements for a short-term rental license in Waterford include:

  1. Submitting a completed application form to the Town Clerk's office
  2. Paying the required application fee (amount not specified in available sources)
  3. Providing proof of ownership and permanent residency at the short-term rental property
  4. Passing a fire safety inspection
  5. Demonstrating compliance with occupancy limits, parking requirements, and other performance standards outlined in the ordinance

The typical processing time for a short-term rental license application in Waterford is not clearly stated in the sources reviewed. However, the Town Clerk's office notes there is generally a one week waiting period for other types of permits, such as solicitor's permits. It's recommended to contact the Clerk directly for the most up-to-date information on short-term rental license processing times.

Failure to obtain the required conditional use permit before operating a short-term rental in Waterford may result in fines and penalties. The exact amounts are not detailed in the available sources. However, nearby municipalities like Saratoga Springs have proposed a $1,000 application fee for short-term rental permits, suggesting non-compliance fines could potentially be even higher.

It's crucial for Waterford property owners to carefully review and adhere to all short-term rental licensing requirements. With the growing scrutiny on the impacts of Airbnbs and VRBOs on residential neighborhoods, the town is focused on ensuring short-term rentals don't become a nuisance or negatively change the character of the community. By obtaining proper permits and following all performance standards, short-term rental operators can avoid costly penalties while providing a valued lodging option for visitors to Waterford.

Required Documents for Waterford Short-Term Rentals

To apply for a short-term rental permit in the Town of Waterford, New York, property owners must submit the following documents:

  1. Completed Application Form: The short-term rental permit application can be obtained from the Waterford Town Clerk's office. This form collects basic information about the property owner, the rental unit, and the intended use.
  2. Proof of Ownership: Applicants must provide a copy of the current deed demonstrating ownership of the short-term rental property. If the owner is an LLC or other legal entity, additional documentation may be required to identify the principals.
  3. Proof of Permanent Residency: Short-term rental operators in Waterford must reside at the property for at least 185 days per year. Acceptable proof of permanent residency includes a valid driver's license, voter registration card, or utility bill in the owner's name at the rental address.
  4. Floor Plan: A detailed floor plan of the short-term rental unit is required, clearly labeling all bedrooms, exits, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide alarms. This document is necessary for the fire safety inspection and to confirm occupancy limits.
  5. Parking Plan: Applicants must submit a site plan showing all available off-street parking spaces for the rental unit. The number of spaces must align with the requirements outlined in Waterford's zoning ordinance.
  6. Insurance Certificate: Proof of liability insurance coverage for the short-term rental property is mandatory. The insurance policy must be issued by a carrier licensed to do business in New York State.
  7. Tax Registration: Short-term rental operators in Waterford must register with the Town Clerk's office to collect and remit applicable occupancy taxes. Proof of tax registration is required as part of the permit application process.

These documents serve to ensure that short-term rentals in Waterford meet all health, safety, and zoning requirements. The Town Clerk's office reviews each application for completeness before forwarding it to the Development Review Board for consideration. Incomplete applications will be returned to the property owner for revision and resubmission.

By carefully compiling and submitting all required documents, short-term rental operators can streamline the permit process and demonstrate their commitment to responsible property management in Waterford.

Waterford Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental operators in Waterford, New York, must collect and remit several types of taxes:

New York State Sales Tax: The state sales tax rate in New York is 4%. This applies to all short-term rentals, as they are considered taxable lodging.

Saratoga County Sales Tax: Waterford is located in Saratoga County, which imposes an additional 3% sales tax on top of the state rate. This means the total sales tax on short-term rentals in Waterford is 7%.

Occupancy Tax: While some New York counties like Chautauqua and Onondaga impose a separate occupancy tax on short-term rentals, Saratoga County does not appear to have an additional occupancy tax based on the information available.

It's important to note that these tax rates are applied to the total reservation cost, including the listing price and any cleaning fees. The taxes are collected from guests by the rental platform, like Airbnb, and then remitted to the appropriate state and local tax authorities on behalf of the host.

Short-term rental operators should be aware that income earned from rentals is also subject to state and federal income taxes. However, there are several potential deductions that can help offset this tax liability:

  1. Mortgage interest and property taxes
  2. Rental insurance premiums
  3. Utilities paid for the rental property
  4. Cleaning and maintenance costs
  5. Depreciation of furniture and appliances used in the rental
  6. Fees charged by rental platforms like Airbnb

To claim these deductions, detailed record-keeping is essential. Short-term rental hosts should maintain receipts and invoices for all rental-related expenses. Consulting with a tax professional experienced in short-term rental regulations is also recommended to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws.

By understanding and properly collecting the required sales and occupancy taxes, as well as taking advantage of available deductions, short-term rental operators in Waterford can maximize their profits while staying on the right side of tax authorities.

New York Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to Waterford's local short-term rental ordinance, hosts must also comply with New York state laws and regulations. The primary state-level law governing short-term rentals is the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law.

This law distinguishes between two main types of dwellings:

  1. "Class A" multiple dwellings include residential apartment buildings. Short-term rentals under 30 days are generally prohibited in these properties unless the permanent resident is present throughout the guest's stay.
  2. "Class B" multiple dwellings include hotels, lodging houses, and other dwellings intended for transient occupancy. Short-term rentals are allowed in these properties.

For tax purposes, New York state defines short-term rentals as stays of fewer than 90 consecutive days. Hosts are required to collect and remit state sales taxes as well as any applicable county or city occupancy taxes on these stays.

In June 2024, the New York state legislature passed a bill to create a statewide short-term rental registry. If signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul, this would require all short-term rental hosts to register their properties with the state every two years. It would also allow counties to collect sales and occupancy taxes on short-term rentals, putting them on a level playing field with hotels.

Proponents argue the registry is needed to address the housing crisis, as the rapid growth of short-term rentals has reduced housing availability and affordability in many areas. It would also provide important data to municipalities for public safety purposes. However, opponents claim it will hurt the tourism economy in areas like Waterford that rely on short-term rental income.

Waterford hosts should closely monitor the status of this statewide registry bill. If enacted, they will need to comply with the new registration and tax collection requirements in addition to Waterford's local regulations. Consulting with a tax professional is advised to ensure full compliance with all applicable state and local short-term rental laws.

Does Waterford Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions among real estate investors on BiggerPockets, Waterford and the surrounding area of upstate New York appear to be relatively strict in enforcing short-term rental regulations compared to other cities.

When New York City banned rentals under 30 days in September 2023, it had a ripple effect on towns like Waterford. An estimated 15,000 Airbnb landlords in NYC suddenly lost rental income, leading to an influx of former short-term rental properties on the market. This suggests that NYC's strict enforcement pushed many hosts to sell rather than risk operating illegally.

Neighboring cities like Schenectady are described as having very stringent rules regarding rental certificates, to the point of being "awful" for investors. One poster even mentioned a code enforcement officer was involved in a tragic incident, highlighting how seriously these towns take rental regulations.

While Albany is noted as having good rental potential, investors are cautioned to carefully factor in the high taxes. The fact that this is the first issue raised about an Albany investment implies that local authorities are proactive about enforcing tax collection on rental properties.

Considering this context, Waterford does not appear to be particularly Airbnb-friendly, especially after the new short-term rental ordinance was passed in July 2023. The public debate around issues like the luxury rental on Waterview Drive suggests there will be close scrutiny on any host not in full compliance with the new rules.

Therefore, I would conclude that Waterford is likely to be strict in enforcing its short-term rental regulations, in line with the general approach seen in upstate New York. Hosts should not assume they can operate under the radar, as the consequences - like fines or losing a rental certification - appear to be real risks. The most prudent course for hosts is to carefully follow all of Waterford's short-term rental rules, from licensing to taxes, if they want to avoid legal entanglements in this regulatory environment.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Waterford

If you're ready to start a short-term rental business in Waterford, New York, follow these steps to ensure you comply with all local regulations and set yourself up for success:

  1. Research Waterford's short-term rental ordinance: Carefully review the town's rules, which were updated in July 2023. Key points include the requirement that rentals are only allowed in owner-occupied properties and are limited to 30 days per year. Understanding these regulations is critical to avoiding fines and operating legally.
  2. Register your property with the town: All short-term rentals in Waterford must be registered and inspected. Contact the Town Clerk's office for the necessary forms and to schedule a fire safety inspection. Be prepared to provide proof of ownership, residency, insurance, and a detailed floor plan.
  3. Obtain a conditional land use permit: After passing inspection, you'll need to apply for a permit from the Development Review Board. The application will require a parking plan and tax registration in addition to the documents submitted for your rental registration. Allow ample time for processing.
  4. Set up tax collection: Short-term rentals are subject to New York state sales tax (4%) and Saratoga County sales tax (3%). You'll need to register with the Town Clerk to collect and remit these taxes on your rental income. Consult with a tax professional to ensure proper compliance.
  5. Prepare your property for guests: Once you have your permit, it's time to get your rental ready for prime time. Invest in quality furnishings, linens, and amenities that will make your property stand out. Consider hiring a professional photographer to showcase your rental's best features in your online listing.
  6. Create a stellar listing: To attract guests, you'll need an eye-catching listing on popular platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. Craft a compelling description that highlights your property's unique selling points and proximity to local attractions. Be transparent about your rental's policies and Waterford's short-term rental rules.
  7. Automate your operations: Running a short-term rental can be time-consuming. Consider using property management software to streamline tasks like booking, communication, and cleaning scheduling. This will free up your time to focus on providing an exceptional guest experience.
  8. Prioritize guest communication: Timely, professional communication is key to earning great reviews and repeat business. Be responsive to inquiries, provide clear check-in instructions, and promptly address any issues that arise during a guest's stay. Going above and beyond will set you apart in a competitive market.
  9. Monitor your metrics: Keep a close eye on your occupancy rate, revenue, and expenses. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure your short-term rental is profitable. Regular analysis will also help you adjust your pricing strategy to maximize earnings during peak seasons.
  10. Stay informed about regulatory changes: The short-term rental landscape is constantly evolving, especially in New York. Stay up-to-date on any changes to Waterford's ordinance or state laws that could impact your business. Joining a local host community can help you stay informed and connected to other short-term rental operators in the area.

By following these steps and prioritizing compliance with Waterford's short-term rental regulations, you'll be well on your way to launching a successful Airbnb business in this charming upstate New York town.

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

If you have questions about Waterford's short-term rental regulations or need assistance with the permitting process, here are the key contacts:

Waterford Town Clerk's Office

  1. Address: 65 Broad Street, Waterford, NY 12188
  2. Phone: (518) 235-8282
  3. Email:

The Town Clerk's office handles short-term rental registrations and can provide the necessary forms for the permitting process. They can also answer questions about required documents like proof of ownership and residency.

Waterford Building & Zoning Department

  1. Phone: (518) 235-3802
  2. Email:

Contact the Building & Zoning Department to schedule your rental property's fire safety inspection, which is required before obtaining a permit. They can also clarify any questions about zoning requirements, like parking regulations.

Waterford Town Supervisor's Office

  1. David F. Ball, Town Supervisor
  2. Phone: (518) 235-8184
  3. Email:

If you have more general questions about Waterford's short-term rental policies or want to provide feedback, the Town Supervisor is a good resource. As the town's chief executive officer, the Supervisor works closely with the Town Board on local legislation.

In addition to these official contacts, connecting with other short-term rental hosts in the area can provide valuable insights and support. While there aren't any Waterford-specific host groups, there are some helpful online communities for upstate New York hosts:

  • Airbnb Community Center's New York Hosts forum:
  • BiggerPockets' Upstate New York Real Estate Investing forum:

Participating in these forums allows you to connect with experienced hosts who can offer location-specific advice on everything from marketing to regulatory compliance. You can also learn from others' experiences navigating the permitting process in towns like Waterford.

By engaging with both town officials and the broader host community, you'll be well-equipped to launch and operate a successful short-term rental business in Waterford while staying in compliance with all local regulations.

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

After searching Reddit, Bigger Pockets, and other online forums, I did not find any discussions or comments specifically from Airbnb hosts in Waterford, New York, regarding the town's short-term rental regulations.

However, there are some general insights from hosts in other cities that may be relevant:

On the Ireland subreddit, hosts discussed how major cities like Dublin are increasingly regulating and banning Airbnbs due to impacts on housing availability and affordability. One commenter noted after New York City's ban, there was a noticeable increase in long-term rental listings.

In the Albany, NY subreddit, posters debated solutions to the city's economic development challenges. Ideas included improving the waterfront area and allowing pop-up vendors, which could be relevant for Waterford's tourism potential. However, the state government's presence in Albany makes it a unique case.

A post on the Ireland subreddit listed the number of Airbnb listings versus long-term Daft rentals in each county. In Donegal, there were over 1600 Airbnbs compared to only 22 Daft listings. This highlights how the proliferation of short-term rentals can impact housing stock.

While these discussions provide some broader context on how cities and towns are grappling with short-term rental regulations, I did not find any comments directly from Waterford Airbnb hosts. It seems this small upstate New York town has not generated much online discussion yet about its new short-term rental ordinance passed in July 2023.

To get direct input and experiences from local hosts, I would recommend searching for Waterford-specific short-term rental groups on platforms like Facebook or Airbnb's Community Center. Contacting the Waterford Town Clerk's office or attending a Town Board meeting could also provide on-the-ground insights into how local operators are reacting to the new regulations.

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.