Options for commercial short-term rentals.

Nantucket is attracting big businesses and investors to the short-term rental market. It’s exacerbating the housing crisis, disrupting the quality of life in neighborhoods, and straining the infrastructure and environment. The pandemic and aftermath will likely accelerate this trend. 

But what are the community’s options?

That’s the good news. Massachusetts offers municipalities a solid framework to regulate short-term rentals. More importantly, it can be customized – even to an island 30 miles out to sea.

The menu of à la carte options includes:

  • A licensing program,
  • Owner-occupied requirements,
  • Location and number of licenses issued,
  • The number of rental days or frequency in a year,
  • Zoning enforcement,
  • Compliance with fire, health & safety codes.

Nantucket’s approach should reduce short-term rentals’ impact on the housing crisis by deterring investors from taking over the local housing supply. In turn, a solution should allow residents to rent their home to compete in the housing market. This strategy would create a more resilient community and economy, help neighbors coexist, and reduce pressures on the island’s infrastructure and natural resources.

The gap between what a year-round resident can afford, and what an investor is willing to pay for a property is enormous. Some thoughtful individuals have focused on developing incentives to convince owners to rent year-round instead of short-term. But the gap is too large. Renting on a short-term basis doesn’t only bring in more money; the tax code treats active income (i.e., short-term rental business) very differently than passive income (i.e., long-term rental). It’s a critical reason why a policy addressing short-term rentals is an essential part of the housing solution.

Enjoy your Sunday,

Julia Lindner
Executive Director

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