BAR HARBOR — In an effort to protect both tenants and landlords, the town of Bar Harbor is exploring the possibility of a long-term rental registration program.
Still in the early stages of development, a task force, which is made up of two landlords, two tenants, two other Bar Harbor residents, one representative of the MDI/Ellsworth Housing Authority, one Town Council member, the fire chief, the code enforcement officer and the planning director is seeking feedback from the community.
A survey has been created on the town’s Polco platform, available at https://polco.us/sgghte. Paper copies are available at the municipal building at 93 Cottage St. The survey closes on April 1.
A long-term rental is considered a dwelling that is rented to a tenant for more than 30 days at a time.
The town currently has little oversight over such long-term rentals, explained Code Enforcement Officer Angie Chamberlain, and relies on voluntary compliance.
“The fire chief and I have been talking about the need for this for years,” said Chamberlain, who added that while the town does not receive many complaints from tenants or landlords, she often hears from neighbors that there are problems the town has few tools to address.
One of the biggest complaints Chamberlain says she hears from neighbors is that of overcrowding, which is currently difficult to enforce. Under town ordinance, no more than five unrelated people are supposed to live in a dwelling unit, but Chamberlain says she believes that number is often exceeded, especially in employee housing situations.
Chamberlain said that sometimes landlords don’t always know all the rules and that sometimes tenants are engaging in activities that are unbeknownst to the landlord.
The long-term rental registration task force, with survey results in hand, will next meet on April 7 to review the comments and suggestions from the community. It aims to have recommendations to the Town Council by mid-June.