Nantucket: Update on Short Term Rental Regulations

Family on Vacation at BeachAndrew Vorce, Nantucket’s Director of Planning, last week presented to the Select Board a working paper on local short term rental data and potential by-law amendment options. It was refreshing to see some fact-based information in this regard.  A few highlights:

Most short-term rental properties are, as one would expect, concentrated in Town, Sconset and Madaket where there are more dense housing patterns.  The majority of STR’s are located in the Residential Old Historic and Sconset Old Historic zoning districts.

There are 2,241 short-term rental properties on Nantucket registered with the state.  It is our experience that there are fewer short-term rental properties on the market than there were in 2019, prior to the pandemic.  Many of the properties that were sold in 2020 and 2021 were previously used as rental properties and are now owner-occupied.  Add to this the fact that many owners have removed their properties from the rental market for their own use.  Lastly, when a property sells, it does not automatically drop off of the state registry.

Data on noise complaints collected from the Nantucket Police Department from May 1, 2020, through October 1,2020 indicated 557 calls related to noise complaints.  The vast majority of these noise complaints were not from houses rented on a short-term rental basis – 97.1%.  This is a perfect example of using real data to inform policy, rather than rumors or anecdotes.

There are currently six working concepts under consideration by the town that would develop into articles for our annual Town Meeting in May 2022.  All of them would be zoning articles, requiring 2/3 to pass, and not general by-laws.

They are:

  1. Define short-term rental and consider allowing a maximum of one rental lease per lot to be used as a short-term rental at any time (example: rent the entire property, or one dwelling unit at a time as a short-term rental).
  2. Define short-term rental and prohibit them in apartments and in workforce rental housing units.
  3. Define short-term rental and allow a maximum number of properties throughout the island to be in common ownership.
  4. Define short-term rental and allow boarders in owner occupied dwelling units.
  5. Define short-term rental and limit the maximum number of days available for short term rental use per calendar year.
  6. Develop a registration or licensing, process in the General Bylaw for short-term rentals. Identify a department to manage the process, including any required inspections or enforcement (similar to a liquor license).

More Information Here