WARWICK – On the advice of elected officials in Newport, the Warwick Planning Board recently voted to submit a recommendation to City Council to pass an ordinance that would severely limit short-term apartment rentals such as those offered through Airbnb and Vrbo.
The Planning Committee recently held a meeting to approve final changes to a proposed city ordinance that would limit short-term leases only to owner-occupied properties located in four residential areas of the community, along with another area known as the “Village Ward.” .
According to the wording of the proposal, the regulations are intended to combat disturbances in the neighborhood that can occur in short-term rental locations when the apartment owner is absent.
“Apartment rentals in Warwick, including short-term rentals in neighborhoods, have been the source of noise, congestion, pollution and disorderly behavior by tenants and others on and near the premises,” the proposed regulation reads. “The City of Warwick notes that through the application of the regulatory framework contained herein, the short-term letting of owner-occupied housing units can positively impact the health, safety and well-being of the community by providing a flexible housing stock while enabling travelers to stay safe while contributing contribute to the local economy.”
Warwick’s proposal provides for a short-term rental permit registration process with an annual registration fee of $250 per unit.
And the proposal also prohibits certain housing units from being used for short-term rentals at all, including “outbuildings,” properties that host weddings, and apartments that are subject to rental assistance, are deemed “affordable” or are otherwise below market price.
It is not yet clear when the city council will vote on the proposed regulations. The next Council meeting is scheduled for October 3 at 5:00 p.m. However, no agenda for the meeting was available as of the reporting date for this story.
The proposed rules would establish fines of up to $100 per day for a first violation, $250 per day for a second violation, $500 per day for a third and each subsequent violation, according to a copy of the regulation , which was sponsored by Warwick Councilors Ed Ladouceur and Donna Travis.
The ordinance states that it would be enforceable by “any zoning enforcement officer” working for the city. Those who exceed three violations will also be subject to revocation of their short-term rental permits for at least 12 months, with permit holders being given an opportunity to appeal to the Zoning Board of Review, the proposal says.
This comes after Newport City Council enacted a ban on short-term home rentals in homes not occupied by the owner in the city’s designated residential zones, while also prohibiting short-term rentals in the city’s “restricted business zones” unless it were because, it is property. The owner obtains a special permit.
Airbnb has spoken out against the regulations on short-term rentals of whole houses. The company said the restrictions in Newport would hurt tax-paying property owners, who often rely on short-term rents to make ends meet.
“These regulations will have a devastating impact on their ability to earn an income that helps them pay their mortgages and contribute to Newport’s overall tourism economy,” Manny Capellan, Airbnb’s public policy manager, said in an e-mail earlier this year. Mail to Providence Business News.
And the new Warwick proposal is on the table as the state introduces a new short-term rental registry introduced by legislation passed by the RI General Assembly in 2021, which was then vetoed by Gov. Daniel J. McKee. which was overturned by state lawmakers earlier this year.
Effective October 1, the new law requires short-term rental property owners to pay a $50 fee to register their short-term rental units with the RI Department of Business Regulation.
Marc Larocque is a PBN writer.
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