NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Newport will have a final hearing Wednesday on an effort to ban short-term rentals in some districts.
A proposed ordinance would prohibit the use of “guest houses” for 29 days or fewer in residential areas, as well as require permits for their use in the city’s Limited Business District.
City Solicitor Chris Behan told 12 News that Newport has been dealing with issues related to short-term rentals since the rise of online platforms like Airbnb, which led to an increase of tourists renting entire properties instead of individual rooms.
Renters, according to Behan, can disturb neighbors by causing limited parking, creating noise, not properly disposing of trash, or causing commotion in areas where there should be no commercial activity. It also depletes the housing stock for people who want to live in Newport, he noted.
While the ban would be one way to control the increase of short-term rentals in these areas, Behan said it won’t fix all of the problems.
Under the current city code, permits are not required for property owners to lease guest houses in the Limited Business District. In residential areas R-3, R-10, R-20 and R-40, they require a Special Use Permit.
If the ordinance is passed, homeowners who have this permit will keep it. Behan expects most of these guest houses will continue operating, as long as they are doing so legally and registered with the City Clerk.
If sold, properties can keep their Special Use Permits.
Homeowners would still be allowed to lease individual rooms on their property in any zone of the city. Up to two room rentals are allowed, or no more than four tenants, if the owner lives on the property full-time.
In the first public hearing on March 9, the City Council read and passed the proposed ordinance. To be enacted, proposed ordinances must be read twice, according to Behan. If read and approved for a second time, which he expects will happen, the ordinance would go into effect immediately.
The second reading of the ordinance will be at the City Council meeting on March 23.