Zoning Change Could Upend Nantucket Rental Market

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/04/26/zoning-change-could-upend-nantucket-rental-market/

By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

Proposed short-term rental regulations set for a vote at Nantucket Town Meeting in May could slash the majority of the island’s supply of immediately available rental units, according to a study that opponents of the measure solicited.

The UMass Donahue Institute examined the proposed zoning bylaw known as Article 60, which will come up for consideration at Town Meeting on Saturday, May 6, and found it would carry major impacts on the market for rentals in the popular vacation destination.

The measure would require short-term rental properties in residential districts to provide “long-term residential use more than short-term rental use,” unless they are owner-occupied, defined as an owner living in the property at least six months every year.

Researchers with the Donahue Institute concluded that only 114 of the 2,293 short-term rentals registered on the island are owner-occupied, and that units “unambiguously compliant” with the proposal “are largely limited to the 114 owner-occupied units.”

The effect, they said, would be to force owners of existing short-term rental property on Nantucket “to choose between renting their home to someone for most the year, moving to Nantucket themselves, selling the home, renting under the table, or renting for 32 days to a group that shares time in the property over the course of a month.”

“The ambiguity of the article’s language means that its eventual impact and enforcement are unclear. However, based on most logical interpretations, owners who cannot spend at least half the year on the island but would still like short-term rental income, can rent out their home to ‘long-term’ renters for most of the year in order to become compliant,” researchers wrote in a summary.

A spokesman said the Alliance to Protect Nantucket’s Economy, which opposes Article 60, commissioned the study. It was not immediately clear Tuesday, April 25 how much the group paid the Donahue Institute.

Supporters of the Town Meeting article argue that the regulations will rein in commercial short-term rentals that have swept across the island. Emmy Kilvert, the article’s sponsor, told Nantucket Current that the Donahue Institute study is an “embarrassment.”

“Other than demonstrating what we already know — that STRs are exploding across the island, with a 26 percent increase in the last two years alone – there doesn’t appear to be any meaningful take-away from this report,” Kilvert told Nantucket Current


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