The Westerly City Council of Rhode Island has voted and approved a new short-term rental ordinance, in hopes of better regulating within this industry.  After a large number of complaints regarding short-term rentals, Police Chief, Lacey, hopes that this list will allow town officials to “hold the owners accountable if, in fact, there are any issues”.

New Short-Term Rental Regulations 

Annual registration of short-term rentals is required for all Residential Short-Term Rentals.  Below you can find the new regulatory requirements to get registered as a vacation rental. 

145-25. Residential Zone Short-Term Rental Registration

  1. Residential Zone Short-term Rental is defined as the offering of occupancy or use of all or portions of a premises, including but not limited to a dwelling unit or any portion thereof, within a residential zone by anyone other than the owner for a fee for a period of fewer than 28 consecutive calendar days. Said offering to be for strictly residential purposes only. 
  2. A dwelling unit in an accessory building, single-family, two-family, three-family, semi-detached, or multi-family dwelling, or a portion of a premises or dwelling unit, may be rented to third parties as a Residential Zone Short-term Rental, subject to the following standards:
    1. Management. The Residential Short-term Rental must be managed by:
      1. Owner Occupant. An Owner Occupant where the Owner of the Property is residing in the property at all times that it is being rented out as a Residential Short-term Rental; or 
      2. Property Management Company. A professional rental management company with a license in good standing as a State of Rhode Island Real Estate Broker or Brokerage. 
      3. Town Resident. A Town Resident is the owner of the property and a full-time resident of the Town of Westerly and shall reside within the Town of Westerly whenever the Residential Short-term Rental is in use. 
    2. Annual Registration. Property owners wishing to use their property as a Residential Zone Short-term Rental must annually register each property as a Residential Zone Short-term Rental with the Town of Westerly. The registration process shall be through a web portal of the Town of Westerly’s design and the registration shall include: 
      1. Fee
        1. Annual registration fee of $50 shall apply to All Residential Short-term Rentals. 
      2. Contact Information. The name, address, email and phone number of the property owner. 
      3. Local Representative. The name, address, email and phone number of the Owner Occupant or Property Management Company authorized to receive any process, notice or demand required or permitted to be served upon the owner of the premises. Said local representative shall: 
        1. Provide contact information that is monitored twenty-four (24)-hours a day. 
        2. In the case of a complaint regarding use of the Residential Zone Short-term Rental, immediately respond to Town of Westerly Officials, including but not limited to the Police Department, but in no case shall such response take more than one (1) hours, unless otherwise excused for cause by the Westerly Police Department. 
      4. Information Package. At the time of registration, the Town of Westerly shall supply the applicant with a copy of applicable Town of Westerly ordinances, including but not limited to information regarding noise, events, trash, or other such neighborhood nuisance issues. 
      5. Leasing of Registration Prohibited. At no time is any party allowed to lease their registration to a third-party. Only the registered property owner with their identified Owner Occupant or Property Management Company may engage in Residential Short-term Rental and such agreements must be with the end user of the Residential Short-term Rental. At no time shall a Residential Short-term Rental be subject to a leasing agreement, including but not limited to a sublease, that does not directly include the property owner. 
  3. Enforcement
  4. Appeals
  5. Bed-and-Breakfasts

Continue here for the full detailed short-term rental ordinance.  It’s also important to note that while noise, littering, parking, solid waste, and peace and good order aren’t directly included in the new ordinance, the city council has decided to rely on other ordinances for these topics.  Be sure to inform yourself of these ordinances as well. 

Short-Term Rental Regulations & Safety 

Short-term rental safety is unfortunately often the most overlooked aspect of maintaining a rental property.  Cities like Westerly, Rhode Island understand that there is a need for safety guidelines to be in place for vacation rentals as well as keeping them regulated by requiring owners to have permits.

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