Tiverton takes closer look at short term rental plan

Air BnB owners asked for changes at council workshop Monday

By Ted Hayes
Posted 8/31/21

The Tiverton Town Council will take a closer look at a proposed ordinance that would regulate short term rentals in town, before sending it on to the planning board for review.

On Monday night, …

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Tiverton takes closer look at short term rental plan

Air BnB owners asked for changes at council workshop Monday

Posted

The Tiverton Town Council will take a closer look at a proposed ordinance that would regulate short term rentals in town, before sending it on to the planning board for review.

On Monday night, the council met to discuss the proposed ordinance in advance of its required planning board review. Councilors agreed to spend a month going over the document and will hold another council meeting on Monday, Sept. 27 to discuss changes and clarifications sought Monday.

Short term rentals, like those marketed by AirBnB, have never been regulated in Tiverton, but the council wants to formally codify their operation, much like Newport and Middletown, and other towns across the state, already do.

"It's a big one," council president Denise deMedeiros said at a meeting on the subject last month. "There's going to be controversy on this. People have called me about it, but what's existing right now is illegal. That's why we're doing this, so owners can do it, but we're putting restrictions on it."

Following Monday night's workshop, some of the regulations spelled out in the draft ordinance will be revisited in the coming weeks, Tiverton Manager Chris Cotta said Tuesday morning.

"There is a need to determine what if any inspections will be required, what the fees will be for both initial and renewal and a need to develop the actual special permit process," Mr. Cotta said.

In addition, Air BnB owners also had questions about owner occupancy issues and income reporting requirements.

Once the council is done, the draft ordinance will be sent to the planning board for its review and a recommendation. Following that, the proposal would head back to the council for its first and second readings, and a public hearing prior to a vote.

What the draft ordinance says now

Among the proposed ordinances, some of which could be modified prior to being sent to the planning board, are the following regulations:

* A special use permit would be required for all short term rentals, defined as properties that are rented out for 28 consecutive calendar days or less, at least once a year. They are not allowed in the highway commercial, industrial and open space/conservation zones.

* The owner of a dwelling unit renting it out short term must occupy the same unit, or at least the same parcel, at least 260 days per year.

* Residents must apply and register for a special use permit with the zoning official every year, and the property is subject to inspection. An annual registration fee of $100 is required.

* All special use permit applications should include a local representative who "shall respond immediately to Tiverton officials in cases of complaints."

* Short term rentals "shall not be used in such a manner that is inconsistent with the abutting properties' uses, nor in such a manner that it creates a nuisance."

* Short-term rentals "shall not be used to host an event, party or other amusement except as may be expressly approved" by the town.

* Renters must furnish visible fire extinguishers, leave documentation addressing concern for neighbors, and avoiding nuisance behaviors and activities.

* Renters must furnish, on request from the town council, "a full copy of all rental data" a listing of nights rented, and gross revenue figures.

* The zoning official will have the power to enforce any conditions placed on any short term rental.

* Those whose properties are the subject of repeat violations are subject to fines. In addition, "after three such citations or police reports or more for similar nuisance or other improper conduct, or two or more violations of conditions imposed on the special use permit ... the zoning official may revoke the special use permit. In lieu of revocation, the officer can impose a minimum fine of seven days of maximum potential revenue for the listing, per day of non-compliance."

* All violations will be adjudicated by the Municipal Court of the Town of Tiverton.

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