On Short-Term Rental Regulation, Look To Palm Springs

Jamie Howarth •

To the editor: There’s a complete misunderstanding of what a Board of Appeals (BoA) is, and how it is to operate under property law dating back to the English Civil War: an appeal to a BoA must be heard and granted unless a clear defined countervailing condition prohibits it. That’s why (Andrew) Vorce is right. It might not make the Article 60 people happy, but they have it exactly backwards: that which is not expressly prohibited is allowed.

Residential use is generalized in Nantucket law: you can of course rent your house, it’s your frickin house. For an hour or 20 years. It is not a commercial proposition unless you’re renting to a commercial entity, which of course is only allowed in cottage industry exceptions. Otherwise it’s rented to residents. There are of course rights and conditions and considerations flowing both ways between landlord and tenant, and whether the landlord is a corporation or an individual (or joint) owner is immaterial: it’s still a residence.

Other municipalities have enacted specific definitions and guidelines about how to regulate *residential* rentals - such as:

- defining STRs as less than 28 days
- requiring STRs to be by permit-only, with a fee, renewable annually and revocable under some conditions such as persistent noise violations, exceeding parking limits, occupancy limits, etc.
- optionally disallowing corporations from obtaining an STR permit.
- limiting the number of STR permits an individual can obtain
- taxing STR income

Again - these do not establish STRs as a commercial *use* but they do in some places prohibit commercial entities from directly renting STRs, owned by the commercial entity.

Commercial entities can manage a property rental for a residence owner (not incorporated), agencies etc.

What would need explanation and revision here is that homes owned by residents in LLCs or shells are indistinguishable from those owned by commercial enterprises such as real estate holding companies. That would be a sticking point, wherein the owners of such properties would need to register for the permit(s) as individuals. In some vacation areas only one permit per individual owner (or joint tenant) is allocated. Maybe here more than one could be appropriate but definitely limited, and again permitted to individuals- not corporations.

By the way this is exactly how Palm Springs evolved their STR regs, and they work. This year they further implemented a 2,400 permit cap, and quotas in each neighborhood.

All of this works within established law and zoning, and is not confused and conflated as Article 60 is.

Jamie Howarth

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