10 fixes to short-term rental problems.

It has taken decades for us to get to this point and it will surely take decades more to fix this problem. Here are a few ways to get that process going.

  1. Cap short-term rentals at a number below current levels and grandfather existing homes. This would allow STRs to reduce over time through attrition and would allow the economy to play catch up while protecting existing homeowners and allowing them to benefit from scarcity pricing. 
  2. Provide incentives to homeowners to rent year-round instead of seasonally. Many homeowners cannot make ends meet without renting short-term. But if an incentive existed we may help some (not all, of course) people keep their homes while providing additional year-round housing. 
  3. Create a 3-5-year moratorium on new STRs. This would put a chilling effect on new STRs and require any new homeowner to become part of the community before extracting money from it.  
  4. Protect year-round residents‘ rights to rent their property short-term. Strengthening the rights of year-round residents helps improve the local economy and allows more STR money to remain on-island. 
  5. Ban corporate ownership of STRs. LLCs that have no connection to a real person who is a full-time or part-time neighbor on Nantucket could be excluded from operating STRs. This would keep neighborhoods about the neighbors and not about the investment potential. 
  6. Require green energy. Require all STRs to produce at least 65% of their energy onsite through solar. And require that any excess power generated in the off-season would go into the local power grid to reduce year-round energy costs. Plus all seasonal homes would pay a higher surcharge to upgrade the local energy infrastructure to make solar power generation and distribution possible. 
  7. Require all STR “operators” to be year-round homeowners. This requirement would mean that any STRs that are owned by an off-island entity or people who only spend a few weeks on the island each year could only be operated by someone who lives on the island year-round and owns property on the island. This would mean that all decisions would be made by someone who is a known entity with a stake in the community. 
  8. Tax (some) STRs as commercial properties instead of residential. The exceptions to this rule would be 1-2 bedroom, low-impact rentals and any STR offered by a year-round resident renting part or all of their primary dwelling. All other STRs would pay the commercial tax rate. This would change the economics of the STR business, put a chilling effect on existing and new STRs and allow inns and hotels to operate on a level playing field. 
  9. Restrict vehicles. A one-rental-one-vehicle-per-week policy would unburden the steamship authority reservations and help unclog the island’s traffic problems. It would also spur the need for better bike and micromobility infrastructure and technology on-island. 
  10. Create a revolving equity-sharing fund that would allow the middle class to compete with STR investors. This fund would give resident homebuyers the ability to bridge the gap between what is affordable and what a regular mortgage payment costs. And allow year-round residents to build equity within the housing market. If trends continue, their home will double in value in a decade and the home can be refinanced with leftover equity returned to the fund to help the next homeowner step up to affordability. A revolving fund of $300 million could help establish 50, stable, year-round families overnight.