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Short-Term Rentals Update: What Does the Land Court Ruling Mean for Nantucket?


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nantucket short term rental ruling

 Nantucket Short-Term Rentals Update

On March 14, 2024, a Massachusetts Land Court judge ruled that Nantucket’s zoning bylaw does not allow short-term rentals (STRs –  rentals of 31 days or less) as a principal use of a primary dwelling and remanded the matter back to Nantucket’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for further consideration and a hearing within 45 days to determine whether STRs qualify as an accessory use, “activities subordinate and customarily incident to [principal] permitted uses”.

We are actively working with the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, local legal counsel, and awaiting additional information to determine what effect, if any, this will have on 2024 (and beyond) STRs. It is unlikely there will be any impact to 2024 leases. This is primarily due to how long it will take to sort out the impact of this ruling, and any pending appeals, but we do not yet know this for certain. 

Here is a list of imminent events that will further clarify what happens to the fate of STRS:

1. The Town of Nantucket may appeal the decision. They most likely will given their stance is that STRs of primary dwellings are a permitted principal use of such properties under the Zoning Bylaw, owing to the Bylaw’s definition of “primary dwelling”. UPDATE as of April 3rd – The Town of Nantucket will not be appealing the decision. 

2. The ZBA has an opportunity to determine and/or clarify whether STRs qualify as an accessory use. 

3. Voters have an opportunity to adopt the citizen’s petition to allow and codify STRs. This will happen at the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) on May 7, 2024 and is the MOST important action item at the present time.  We encourage all registered voters/homeowner to vote.  If you are not a registered voter, we encourage you to reach out to family, friends and service providers who are registered voters. Please tell them how critical this Town Meeting is for the viability of short-term rentals.  

“Warrant Article 59, sponsored by Attorney Steven Cohen, would exclude rental of residential properties from the definition of commercial uses, and it would create the new uses of Short-Term Rentals and Long Terms Rentals, allowing them in all zoning districts except the Commercial Industrial district.  If STRs are expressly allowed this way, then they are a principal use and the further inquiry into accessory use is not needed.  This Warrant Article received a positive motion from the Planning Board and will be voted on at the 2024 Annual Town Meeting on May 7.  It needs a 2/3 vote to be adopted.” Attorney Steven Cohen

As always, feel free to reach out to your Fisher agent with any questions. We will do our best to keep you informed as we learn more.

Additional Resources on the Land Court Ruling for Short Term Rentals:

2024 Nantucket Annual Town Meeting

Judge Vhay’s Full Decision

Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law

Written By

Fisher Real Estate