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Our Recommendations

We are simply concerned citizens and homeowners in Tobyhanna Township who have spent a lot of time debating and researching the issues at hand. We want above all else to protect everyone's rights to privacy and safety. We respect the Pocono's way of life and want it to be preserved effectively while also allowing STRs to continue to positively contribute to the local economy.

The opinions below are the opinions of 8 of us homeowners, but we represent a growing movement of homeowners, cleaners, contractors, handymen, restaurant owners, small business owners, and residents that seek to regulate STRs in a fair and justified manner for the benefit of all.


Our standpoint is simple - nearby townships have already solved these issues. Coolbaugh, Jackson, Tunkhannock all have fair and justified ordinances in place and are successfully enforcing and living amongst STRs. HOAs retain the ability to dictate to their local communities more rigid regulations if necessary based on the wishes of their constituents.


Why reinvent the wheel? Tobyhanna Township is no different from these other townships, in fact a few HOAs are split down the middle between townships, and creating an ordinance that differs greatly from the others would only serve to cause economic hardship and undue burdens on these HOAs and communities.

We believe that these township's ordinances already do a great job of curbing issues with party houses, repeat offenders, and STR abuses. Recently 2 ideas have been floated around that we wanted to specifically address.

To support our belief that surrounding township ordinances are fair, well funded, and easy to enfroce, we contacted both Coolbaugh and Tunkhannock Enforcement Officers. Below are their responses to our inquiries:

Coolbaugh Enforcement Officer:

Overall the short-term rental program for Coolbaugh Township has been a very positive experience with almost 100% compliance with property owners and their willingness to get their paperwork submitted in a timely manner and obtain permits. I say almost 100% because we have to factor in there are some owners who are still unaware of the ordinance and requirements, not to mention with the recent explosion of the housing market properties are changing hands almost daily….

….The complaints I received are sporadic with most involving noise and/or music past acceptable times and are generally handled almost immediately with a phone call or email. The majority of the complaints stem from a neighbor who does not appreciate a rental property next door and will make any attempt necessary to get violations placed. Once again, these complaints are addressed and handled with a call or email.

1. What is the cost to the Township for enforcement?

There is no additional cost to the Township outside of hourly wages (regular or overtime)
 2. How many total people are acting as enforcement officers?

While Coolbaugh has 3 zoning officers (2 full-time, 1 part-time) I am the only officer that handles short-term rentals.
 3. Do you see this needing to be increased in the future?

No. I’ve spoken with a few HOA’s who are looking to limit and/or deny any current or future STRs in their respective areas. Combined with the over inflated housing market being driven by short-term rentals I don’t foresee a great deal of longevity.
 4. What is the review process like for violations/complaints?

Each complaint gets handled as it’s received, preferably received during the issue. The complaint is noted and a call is made to the property owner or emergency contact to notify them of the complaint, establish a time frame to have the issue resolved and return a call to the individual who made the complaint. Generally any complaints are resolved within 1-2 hours with no further incidents. Any complaints we receive after the incident will result in sending the owner an email detailing the complaint received and an advisement to prevent these issues in the future.
 5. Do you use STR funds for other things besides enforcement?

Our program and fee schedule were not designed as a source of income as our application fees are equal to and comparable to other zoning applications for a shed, deck or pool. The Township itself does not impose any fines for violations as they would be imposed by the court if a violation were to go unresolved or repetitive in nature.
 6. Does the Township pay for a vehicle or other costs?

Prior to our Ordinance taking effect, we had 2 Township vehicles but since then we have added a 3rd. This is not added as a specific vehicle for STRs but to reduce any down time between anyone in the office who would need a vehicle. The only other purchase related to STRs were tablets in order to complete the permitting process outside of the office.
 7. Do you pay for outside consultants to assist?

 8. How many incidents were recorded in 2021 and how were they resolved?

As of today Coolbaugh has 753 STRs throughout the Township, and currently there are 3 STR properties with current violations, with 1 case heading to court next month for renting without a permit. I have received complaints for 17 properties, all were resolved quickly as described above.

Tunkhannock Enforcement Officer:


Maximum Occupancy

Almost all nearby STR legalized townships agree: 4 + 2 times the number of bedrooms is a fair and justified ordinance regulation. This serves to reduce partying and prevents fire hazards. STRs to be considered compliant must prove their number of bedrooms are safely within the limits of the regional septic code. This prevents rogue owners from illegally converting rooms into bedrooms in order to pack their homes with guests.

We believe a 16-person maximum occupancy limit is fair and helps to reduce problem guests who simply wish to trash houses and communities.

Trying to personally interpret fire code and reinvent the wheel is not necessary. The other townships are already successfully regulating these issues. Having 12 people in a mid-sized 4 bedroom home for a family reunion is safe for full-time residents, why would it be any different for an STR? STRs are up to code through yearly permit inspections ensuring their fire alarms are working, and they have ready to use fire extinguishers. STRs are thoroughly cleaned and organized every week preventing fire hazards. On average, we believe STRs are most likely to be safer than your average residential home.

We have reviewed the international building code available online referenced by the BOS and have our analysis below(code screenshotted is 2015 but after reviewing 2021 code, it is the same):

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  • Short-term rentals, as defined above, are considered in this Code to be 'Boarding Houses' since they are used for lodging for compensation, and are not occupied as a single-family unit. They are also considered 'Transient' due to the fact they are occupied for less than 30 days at a time.

  • If an STR has greater than 10 occupants it is considered R1.

  • If an STR has 10 or fewer occupants, it is considered R3.

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  • Construction after 1984 requires sprinklers when the building is in R1 (aka, greater than 10 occupants).

  • There is an exception however, that as long as those buildings do not have occupied floors greater than 75 feet from fire department access, hard-wired detectors will suffice.

IRC Code:

  • If the BOS would prefer to use the IRC code, as stated above, townhouses or one-family dwellings require a fire sprinkler system.

  • It states however that there is an exception for existing townhouses or one family dwellings, they do not require this installation.

  • Applying for a STR permit does not trigger this building code process, and if it does, there is an exception granted.

Minimum Stays

The average STR rental length is about 2.5 days. Minimum stays create economic hardship by forcing homeowners to lower rent prices, and others to simply close up and sell their homes. This would effectively ban STRs in the market, and cause the local economy to suffer greatly, eliminating up to 25% of local jobs.

Data taken from AirDNA - which aggregates local rental data - shows that rentals would be reduced by 96% if a 7-minimum day requirement was implemented. Even a 3-day minimum would reduce the market by 51% as shown below.

We recommend a 2 night stay, 3 day minimum. Anything above this would cause substantial harm and would effectively be a ban on short term rentals. Calling it by any other name is a falsehood.

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Suggested Ordinance Tools to Reduce Rental Problems

Here are some tools we are promoting as concerned homeowners and experienced rental owners that we believe will help protect Tobyhanna Townships full-time residents' way of life, curb problem rentals, safeguard renters, and reduce parties. 

Prevent Parties and Provide Evidence

The Noiseaware device (or other noise-monitoring devices) helps reduce noise levels typically associated with parties. When an enforcement officer arrives they'll have access to the device found outside on the deck or in the backyard permanently fixed to a structure. Their findings will be used to confirm or deny partying complaints, which will prove useful in the 3-strike system suggested below. If there is no noise monitoring data proving there wasn't a problem, the strike is considered valid.

For those who are unaware, Noiseaware is a relatively new, fairly inexpensive device ($100) that you place outdoors and will connect to your Wifi, transmitting noise level data to be easily accessed. You can set alarms based on limits, so if someone is making too much noise you will be alerted.

Product Reference:

3 Strikes...
You're Out!

A penalty system which will force STR owners to be held accountable and proactively take action to eliminate nuisance renters:

  • Enact a 3 strike system, allowing for 1 strike to be removed each year there are no further issues.

  • Each strike results in a $500 fine payable to the Township.

  • 3 strikes results in permit being revoked for 3 months. After the 3 months your strikes are cleared, however, the second time you reach 3 strikes your permit is revoked permanently for that property.

  • Investigating validity of claims will be done by the enforcement officer similar to Tunkhannock, and can be verified or refuted using noise and/or video monitoring data. HOAs will be allowed to come up with their own enforcement systems and rules.

Tunkhannock township (Ordinance here) has a similar 3 strike system within a 12 month rolling period or permit is revoked for 6 months. Any further 3 strikes the permit is revoked for 1 year.

Coolbaugh township (Ordinance here) has a similar 3 strike system within a 12 month period.

Permit Fees and Caps on Number of Permits Issued

  • Permits will cost $500 per application for each STR home.

  • Renewals will cost $250 per year.

  • If you don't submit for renewal within 60 days of expiration, you lose your permit and have to restart your permit application process.

  • Permits capped at a percentage of houses in Tobyhanna (maybe 15%, currently about 8% based on sources below) in order to make sure Tobyhanna stays a place primarily for full-time residents.

Tunkhannock township charges $500 per application and $200 for each renewal.

Coolbaugh township charges $200 per application and $190 for each renewal.

Jackson township charges $400 per application and $100 for each renewal.

(Township data taken from census data found here)

Other nearby townships don't have permit caps, but major cities across the US are implementing this.

Increase Septic Pumping Frequency

  • Septic must be pumped out once every two years. This is only slightly more than the bare minimum of once every three years.

  • To easily enforce, your septic pumping receipt must be attached to every other permit renewal application.

  • At only roughly $200 per pumping, homeowners average a cost of $100 per year. A nominal cost that prevents public health hazards and keeps your communities ecosystem viable and your renters safe from overflow.

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