Nearly 3,000 short-term rentals registered with RI’s new registry – see where they are

PROVIDENCE — The deadline for hosts to register their Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term rentals in Rhode Island has passed, and nearly 3,000 properties have been registered with the state so far.

The 2,936 short-term rentals recorded are mostly clustered where you would expect: in Providence (252) and along the shore. Narragansett leads the way by a significant margin, with 641 short-term rentals recorded. The community with the second highest number of registered properties was Middletown, with 323. Block Island had 258. Newport had 254.

A year ago, state lawmakers overruled Gov. Dan McKee’s veto to pass legislation creating a statewide short-term rental registry. With short-term rentals, owners can rent out a room or an entire house, usually for less than 30 days, through online platforms. They’ve become a popular option for vacationers and homeowners alike, and they’re proliferating not just in long-time tourist hotspots, but in nearly every corner of the state: they’re found in every town in Rhode Island, with the exception of Foster, Lincoln and West Greenwich. Besides the towns with zero, Woonsocket and Scituate had the fewest, with two short-term rentals recorded each.

They must be registered at $50 per person with the Department of Business Regulation or face fines of $250 for the first 30 days, $500 for 31-60 days, and $1,000 for more than 60 days. (It is possible, in other words, that some short-term rentals may not be registered.) The deadline to register was Sunday; the database, which includes property addresses and registration status, is also available on the state websitebut we’ve also included a searchable map below.

Airbnb isn’t the state’s only rental platform, but it’s probably the most well-known, and its name is often referred to as shorthand for short-term rentals. He also has strong ties to Rhode Island: Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Cheskygraduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (which has its own Airbnb in Barrington). According to the company, listings on Airbnb represent 0.5% of the total listings in Rhode Island.

State Senator Victoria Gu said in an interview that she heard a lot about short-term rentals while canvassing during her successful campaign to represent Westerly, Charlestown and South Kingstown. Concerns included nuisance issues like noise; changes in neighborhoods, with owner-occupied dwellings becoming rentals where people came and went every week; and the lack of available housing for people to live in full time.

Gu said she would meet with the Department for Business Regulation next week to get a briefing on the register – which she called an “important first step”. Other steps are possible; the General Assembly began its session this week.

Meanwhile, some cities in Rhode Island have taken matters into their own hands, creating their own registries or developing their own regulations. In Narragansett, members of the city council considered imposing a series of restrictions, which prompted local landlords to push back.

Proponents of Airbnbs and other short-term rentals have said they are a good way for people to earn extra cash. About 35% of hosts said in an Airbnb survey that one of the reasons they host is to be able to earn money to help cover the rising cost of living, and 40% said they host to earn money to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Airbnb is highlighting its efforts to prevent disruptive parties — which the San Francisco-based company says are working.

Donna Parssinen, an Airbnb host in a rural part of Westerly, said Airbnb has allowed her to earn extra money and even make new friends. She went to have fun with some of her guests, and for Thanksgiving, roast chestnuts over an outdoor fire pit with them. She rents the house where she grew up and lives in another house on the property.

And yes, it is recorded.

“I think you can adopt sensible regulations and address issues that people may have without being too restrictive,” Parssinen said in an interview hosted by Airbnb’s public relations office. “I can understand that there are issues, depending on particular situations or particular hosts. And of course this should be approached not too broadly. … If you have a rotten apple in the barrel, will you throw the whole barrel away?

Expedia Group, which includes Vrbo, said in an emailed statement that it was “engaged in productive partnerships with community stakeholders to support and balance the needs of neighbors, travelers and the rental community. short term”.

“Through our active engagement in Rhode Island, Expedia Group found the Rhode Island Department of Business and Regulatory to be both responsive and transparent when we asked questions,” said Philip Minardi, global head of Expedia Public Affairs, in an email. . “We understand that the short-term rental registry is working well and providing useful information to municipalities and individuals.”

But there are skeptics. This includes certain sectors of the hospitality industry; some figures in this world consider short-term rentals a bit more than unregulated hotels that get more favorable tax treatment. According to the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, a trade group that includes hotels, hotel guests pay 13% to stay in a hotel, made up of a 7% sales tax, a state hotel tax of 5% and a local hotel tax of 1%. But customers of short-term rentals of an apartment or entire home only pay 7% sales tax and 1% local hotel tax; rentals of an entire house or apartment are excluded from the 5% hotel tax.

“We think that at a minimum, because they operate like hotels, they should be taxed the same way hotels are taxed,” Sarah Bratko, then hotel association lobbyist, said in october.

Brian Amaral can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.

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