ROCKLAND, Maine — The City Council gave preliminary approval Monday night to regulating short-term housing rentals.

The council has been working on a package of regulations since March and postponed action on three earlier occasions in the face of opposition from advocates of property owners who rent out rooms or entire houses in the city.

At Monday night’s meeting, councilors amended the proposed ordinances to allow homeowners to offer shorter stays before giving the measure preliminary approval on a 4-0 vote. Mayor Frank Isganitis abstained, since he is the co-owner and operator of a bed and breakfast.

It is an issue that other communities around Maine and the country are struggling with as more travelers are turning to a growing number of rooms, apartments and houses that are rented for short-term stays through such websites as A review of on Tuesday, for instance, found 33 residences being advertised in Rockland.

Some lodging businesses have complained that some of the informal rentals violate state and local laws, including safety, tax and zoning regulations.

Eric Conrad, director of communication and educational services for the Maine Municipal Association, said that waterfront communities have had to deal with the issue of vacation rentals for decades. He said a few communities have contacted his organization’s legal department for advice on regulating short-term rentals and some communities have enacted regulations concerning noise and parking.

Cape Elizabeth officials adopted an ordinance in 2012 that requires property owners with fewer than nine tenants to go through a permitting process before renting out space for less than 30 days, according to The Forecaster news publication.

During Monday night’s council meeting in Rockland, both supporters and opponents expressed concerns about the proposed regulations.

Annie Higbee said people who come to Rockland for short stays don’t cause problems for neighbors. She also said restricting short-term rentals in multi-family structures would deter people from investing in these properties in Rockland.

Barbara Heard of Camden Accommodations, which is a property management company, said vacation rentals have a huge positive economic impact on Maine. She urged the councilors to be cautious, saying too many regulations could mean the death of vacation rentals.

Talbot Avenue resident Laura Borchert said, however, that regulations are needed to protect neighborhoods.

“Rockland is not just a place to come and vacation,” Borchers said.

The regulations would require people who rent out rooms for less than one month at a time to get a permit from the code enforcement officer. The owners also would need to provide proof of insurance.

Approval of the planning board would be required for property owners in residential zones who want to rent out entire houses or one unit of a duplex for less than a month but not less than three days at a time. The council agreed to amend the ordinance Monday night to reduce the minimum stays for entire homes or units in a multi-family building from four to three days.

Under the proposed ordinance, short-term rentals in a building with three or more units also would be required to have a sprinkler.

The council will hold a formal public hearing and possible final vote at its Dec. 14 meeting.