Are you zoned for short term rentals? As of recently new enforcement of Newport ordinances concerning short term rentals platforms like AirBnB have homeowners in Newport confused about who and who isn’t allowed to rent their property short term (under 30 days). Many property owners have received notices from the town prohibiting short term rentals for homes that are not in zones that allow these types of rentals unless owner occupied. In addition, the city has enlisted the services of Host Compliance LLC, a software company that checks AirBnB and 50 similar websites to check listing and look for illegal rentals. Host Compliance promises “quick and accurate identification of short-term properties in Newport’s jurisdiction including full address, parcel info and contact information for all identifiable short-term rentals in the city.”

The council action allows the city to hire a seasonal intern to work with the company, the city clerk’s office and the Finance Department. Once the short-term rentals are identified, the intern will notify owners of state and city regulations. The intern, working with the company, will “monitor compliance and listings going forward for the 2017 summer season,” according to a written explanation provided by Finance Director Laura Sitrin.

By city ordinance, owners of homes in residential districts can rent up to two rooms in their home to up to four people for short terms, but the owner must remain on the premises and register the home as a guest house.

In order to be allowed to rent short-term and not be owner occupied the property must be in a district zoned as either waterfront business (WB), general business (GB) or limited-business (LB). Homeowners can go before the Zoning Board of Review and apply for a special-use permit to rent short-term in a residential district, subject to zoning regulations, but that seldom happens. A property owner must also comply with City Ordinances that apply to short term rentals:

  • The property must be registered with the City Clerk as a short term rental unit, or guest house.
  • $20 Registration Fee per Unit
  • $25 Inspection Fee per Unit
  • The property may be inspected by the Minimum Housing Inspector as part of the registration process.
  • Properties in zones not permitting Guest Houses by right, may apply for a Special Use Permit through the Zoning
    Board of Review. The applicationis available through the Zoning & Inspections Department web page.
  • Properties must meet an off street parking requirement of one space per bedroom.