More Regulations on Short Term Rentals?

Sunset Madaket 2020 PDIn 2019 the definition of properties that are subject to the state’s Room Occupancy Tax was expanded to include private homes in addition to hotels, motels and inns.  The law has effectively created a framework for the state government to track and tax short-term rentals.  With some exceptions, owners of properties that rent for more than 14 days per year have to register with the state and collect and remit the tax, currently 11.7%, on the gross rental amount of each rental.  There are now approximately 2,200 Nantucket homes registered with the Commonwealth. Some of these homes rent for the entire season, and some may rent for only 2 weeks.

ACK Now, a group of summer and year-round residents, is seeking to further regulate and limit short term rentals.  They assert that a large number of homes that are rented out on-island are owned by businesses and solely “investment buyers”.  In our experience, the vast majority of short term rental homes are owned by individuals and families who rent their properties out periodically in order to generate some income to help defray the high cost of owning on Nantucket.   ACK Now posits that these “corporate interests” are buying up “housing that would otherwise be used by year-round people”.  This is misleading. While there are some exceptions, vacation rental homes and year-round homes are not traditionally located in the same neighborhoods and they have different levels of amenities.  This has evolved as a result of function as well as price.  Under current laws and zoning homeowners have the right to sell and rent their properties regardless of where the property is located.  ACK Now claims that short term rentals are the reason that year round neighborhoods are changing.  Many year round people, for a variety of reasons, have chosen to sell their houses and move and it is their right to do so.  ACK Now has filed an article with the Town that seeks to further regulate short-term rentals by limiting the number of days each year an owner can rent.  They are proposing up to 45 days for non-resident owners and up to 90 days for year-round residents.  This seems inconsistent.  The article also proposes that the rental property be registered with the Town (requiring more regulations, a new Town department and more fees).  Will properties be required to have a commercial fire suppression system like a hotel does?  Will they be required to pay taxes at the commercial tax rate?  Will there be annual inspections by the Board of Health?  By the Zoning Department?  Where does this lead?  ACK Now is claiming that the article will somehow help affordable housing. It’s not clear how limiting the hospitality market, the island’s largest industry, will increase affordable housing.  To the contrary, it will likely limit the income of the vey people the group proposes to help.

The opportunity to have your voice heard on the article will be at the next Annual Town Meeting which, at this time, is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, 2021 outside in a large tent at the school.

Here is a link to the ACK Now web site.

Here is a link to the Article as Proposed:  Revised Draft General Bylaw re STRs (1.19