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Clarkstown Plans To Ban Short-Term Rentals After Violent Incident On Suburban Street; Town Typically Issues Notice Of Violation To Give Short Terms Renters A Chance To Comply
By Tina Traster
The Town of Clarkstown has charged a New City homeowner with violating rules on short-term rentals following a violent incident that took place last month while his house was rented out through Airbnb.
Meir Shuvalsky, who owns 3 Turnberry Court, is accused of violating two sections of the town’s short-term rental code by failing to obtain a rental permit and for advertising the property without a rental permit number.
There is also a broader third charge for generally failing to comply with the town’s short-term rental law. All three charges were filed on Feb. 3 in Clarkstown Town Justice Court.
Shuvalsky is due in court on Feb. 22 before Judge Howard Gerber.
The incident has sparked a bigger conversation town-wide on whether short-term rentals should be permitted. It was only in Dec. 2020 that the town added short-term rental provisions to the town code. Prior to that, there were no provisions or prohibitions on short-term rentals.
But now Clarkstown town officials want to crack down entirely on short-term rentals.
On March 8 at 7 pm, Clarkstown’s town board will hold a public hearing on a proposed ban on short-term rentals. There are already strict measures in place to regulate such agreements and punish those who violate them. Several Clarkstown properties are currently listed on Airbnb. It is unclear how many have permits or how many homeowners have been prosecuted for violating short-term rental laws since Dec. 2020.
Clarkstown Attorney Craig Johns did not return calls or emails.
However, a Clarkstown building department official said the town generally tries to figure out who is listing their house for short-term rental using satellite images because Airbnb and other rental sites don’t list addresses.
“We generally issue a violation notice to let the homeowner know that they need a permit because they usually don’t know,” said the official. “We try to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
When asked if Shuvalsky had been issued a notice, the official said, “he’d only bought the house in December.”
In the meantime, another Clarkstown homeowner has been to court for several violations over building a pool cabana without a building permit.
The building official said he did not know of any other violations.
A homeowner who wants to use his home for short-term rentals must obtain a permit from the town, and a permit must be renewed every two years. The cost to apply for a permit is $250. Short-term stays cannot exceed 30 days at a time, or a maximum of 90 days in a calendar year. A homeowners must carry a policy of up to $1 million in homeowners’ insurance. It is against the rules to hold “gatherings” between 10 pm and 7 am. Also, absentee landlords must have a “resident agent,” or someone local to manage the property.
Supervisor George Hoehmann said the town is seeking $15,000 in fines from the homeowner.
According to the code, first-time penalties range from $3,500 to $5,000; second-time penalties from $7,000 to $10,000; third offenses from $10,000 to $15,000.
The charges against Shulvalsky say it is unlawful to “use, establish, maintain, operate, occupy, rent or lease any property as a short-term rental without having obtained a short-term rental permit.” Also, a homeowner must apply for a short-term rental permit before the space is advertised for occupancy and the short-term rental permit number must be noted in the advertisement.
Shuvalsky, a Valley Stream, NY resident, bought the seven-bedroom, four-bath house in Dec. 2021. He has it listed on Airbnb for $685 per night and managed by David Hirsh. The Clarkstown police confirmed the listing appeared on Airbnb.
“The town found no short-term rental permit had been applied for, or granted,” the complaint says.
Shuvalsky did not want to comment for the story.
On January 29, gunshots rang out on the quiet New City street. Nobody was hurt. Five suspects fled the house and drove away in a black Mercedes. Police chased the car until it hit a utility pole, at which point all five suspects inside bolted in different directions on foot, police said. All five, including one juvenile, was arrested.