Portsmouth talks short-term rentals July 13


The Portsmouth City Council will hold a first reading of an ordinance that would regulate short-term rentals at its Monday, July 13 meeting. The topic has been part of an ongoing debate among city councilors about how the city should regulate rentals through services like Airbnb.

The proposed ordinance establishes a definition for short-term rentals as “the rental of a dwelling unit for less than 30 consecutive days” and separates it from rooming and boarding houses and bed and breakfasts, which have their own definitions under city law. The ordinance also sets limits on occupancy for short-term rentals, requires homeowners have insurance and “sufficient off-street parking,” and limits the areas where short-term rentals can occur largely to the city’s downtown neighborhoods.

“(Short-term rentals aren’t new) … it’s been an invisible part of our economy forever.”
— Rose Golini

South End resident Rose Golini plans to speak against the ordinance. Golini rented out her house for about a year, until she received a cease and desist letter from city officials last fall. Golini wants to see short-term rentals allowed throughout the city, and believes the ordinance is unfair to residents outside downtown who want to rent their homes. And, though Golini and other residents have been forced to stop offering short-term rentals, other city residents are still posting short-term room and home rentals on Airbnb and other sites.

“(Short-term rentals) have been happening forever in this community. It isn’t new … it’s been an invisible part of our economy forever,” she says.

Golini believes that allowing short-term rentals throughout the city would have a “huge” economic impact.

“We don’t have to spend a dime to get this; we don’t have to build parking garages, there’s no new development. The infrastructure is already there. It’s a win-win situation for the city,” she says. Short-term rentals also “strengthen neighborhoods” by providing extra income to homeowners to make improvements.

Also at the meeting, councilors will hold a public hearing on a proposed charter amendment that would make the office of mayor an elected position. The meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at Portsmouth City Hall. — Larry Clow