BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s been an increase in short-term rentals and Airbnbs in one part of Buffalo that’s drawing criticism from home owners.
Airbnbs and short-term rentals have exploded in popularity in the Allentown neighborhood. However, some residents say having too many short-term rentals in the area is doing a lot more harm than good.
Maura Winkler and her husband want to turn three of their properties in the Allentown neighborhood into short-term rentals. To do this, they need to apply for a special use permit through the city.
When Winkler went before the Buffalo Common Council during a public hearing on Sept. 26, several Allentown residents said they didn’t want anymore short-term rentals in the area.
One person in the meeting said short-term rentals “destroy the fabric of the neighborliness that is difficult to find.”
Another called it “unnecessary and detrimental.”
“I think the perception is, ‘oh this is a party house,’ no, we don’t want partying in our houses that is the absolute last thing we want,” Winkler told News 4. “I think our Airbnbs are bringing a lot to the neighborhood in terms of diversity, in terms of supporting local businesses.”
Winkler also owns the Coit House, the oldest home in Buffalo. She says her family cares about the neighborhood, its history and the people who live there.
“We really do care about these old houses being maintained and I think one of the things that happens with these long-term rentals is that you do have landlords that don’t live locally, they don’t collect enough money in long-term in order to really upkeep some of these historic properties that need very expensive renovations,” Winkler said.
Winkler said one of the properties they bought was from someone who did not live in Western New York, and the home needed a lot of renovations.
“What I feel over and over again is there are certainly plenty of problems in Allentown, one with these absentee landlords one would say, and in fact one of these properties we own, we purchased from someone who lived in Massachusetts and was not upkeeping the property,” she said. “When we bought it, it needed a lot of work.”
The Winklers invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate each of their properties. She says she understands the concerns residents have, but assures the community that this will actually benefit the neighborhood.
“One of the issues in Buffalo, we don’t always have enough density to support our local businesses and that’s why we see a lot of these businesses in Allentown and the Elmwood village going out of business,” she said. “So I know some of the local business owners are happy to hear that there’s Airbnb’s in the neighborhood.”
“Allentown is a unique neighborhood with old housing stock, it’s dense, adjacent to downtown, it’s very desirable to people who want to have an Airbnb,” said Buffalo Common Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski.
Nowakowski says he’s been working with both concerned residents and property owners.
“The last thing I want to do is have neighborhoods that are not in harmony and have visitors come in and stay somewhere and not feel welcome,” he said. “But I also want to stick up for the residents who are voicing rationale concerns about the identity and the fabric of their neighborhood seeming to be at loss by a saturation of short term rentals.”