standing Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE — Sen. Victoria Gu and Rep. Lauren H. Carson have introduced legislation that would allow municipalities to regulate short term rentals within their borders.

“In our coastal communities, people may be able to find a rental in the off-season from September to April, but then they’re forced to stay with family, couch surf or stay at a motel during the summer because the house is being rented out to tourists for one to two thousand dollars a week,” said Sen. Gu (D-Dist. 38, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown). “As I was talking to residents, some pointed out the houses in their neighborhood that were getting converted to short-term rentals, which drives up rent and housing prices for long-term residents.”

Critics of the current short-term rental market say allowing large groups of tourists to rent homes in residential neighborhoods leads to noise complaints, disruption to the quality of life and safety issues. A home with large groups coming in and out creates more traffic, waste water and trash and recycling. Parties have gotten out of hand, leading to conflicts with neighbors and police responses. Additionally, every unit of housing that is rented to tourists is one less unit for Rhode Island residents.

Under current law, the state prohibits cities and towns from restricting short-term rentals. The bill (2023-S 0310) would remove that preemption provision and allow municipalities to pass local ordinances to regulate or restrict short-term rental units.

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