There is no question this summer will be a “muted one.” But the common theme amidst all this chaos is that the island will recover and hopefully come out stronger. We must take this time to learn from the past and position ourselves for the future.
Let’s start with a popular topic: short-term rentals (STRs).
Vacation rentals have been an important part of the Nantucket experience for a long time. But didn’t they function more as recurring rentals for families staying for long durations? Didn’t weekend visitors stay at hotels and inns? Nantucket now has 1,900 short-term rentals on the State’s list. That’s about 20% of all household units. The actual number is likely higher.
What changed? Airbnb (and other online platforms like it).
The popularity of sites like Airbnb have transformed the vacation rental scene. They’ve made it frictionless for visitors to rent for as little as one night and highly lucrative for owners. The question is, how has the “Airbnb effect” impacted our community?
Research suggests the increased ability to rent short-term has led to higher long-term rental rates and home prices. The growth of Airbnb and other apps like it has shifted housing supply from long-term to short-term rentals. Residential property into commercial property. It has turned every residential neighborhood with Airbnb rentals into a hotel district. The increased ability to make more money by renting short-term has pushed house prices up. Does this all sound familiar?
Communities all over are assessing the impacts of app-enabled STRs. Kauai, The Hamptons, and Aspen are just a few examples. At the top of the list of concerns are impacts on housing, but also local infrastructure, the hospitality industry, quality of life in neighborhoods, and more.
We’re researching the topic to start the conversation. Are STRs hurting the community? What are our options?