Sununu opposes proposal on short term rental restrictions

Sununu opposes proposal on short term rental restrictions

April 20, 2022 0 By Christian Wade

Gov. Chris Sununu says he opposes a plan moving through the New Hampshire Legislature that would prohibit cities and towns from banning short-term rentals.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate in February, would bar local governments from enacting zoning restrictions or passing local ordinances prohibiting use of private homes for short term and vacation rentals. The measure is pending before the House Municipal and County Government Committee, which is scheduled to take up it next week.

But Sununu is telegraphing his opposition to the plan, saying he’s concerned about the “long-term implications” of the state restricting the authority of local governments.

“I don’t like telling towns what they can and can’t do,” Sununu told reporters at a Wednesday press briefing. “If you’re going to believe in local control, then you believe in local control.”

Backers of the proposal say it seeks to strike a balance between the interests of homeowners looking to make money off their properties and the need for local governments to regulate the short-term rental industry.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Harold French, R-Canterbury, argues that the lack of statewide regulations on short-term rentals has fueled a surge of legal actions between local governments and property owners. He said judges have pleaded with lawmakers to enact new rules for the industry.

The state Supreme Court is weighing a case involving a ban on short term rental properties enacted by Conway, which was recently overturned by a state Superior Court judge who ruled that the rentals are a protected use of private property.

During a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee in January, several property owners testified about making big ticket financial investments on short-term rental properties, only to see them banned by local governments.

Cities and towns would be allowed to regulate the short term rental industry and charge homeowners a fee for renting out the properties, under the plan. Local governments would also be allowed to conduct annual inspections of the properties to determine if they meet basic health and safety standards. But other restrictions would be limited under the proposed legislation.

The proposal is backed by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, which says local bans on short-term rentals disrupt the already constrained real estate market by decreasing property values and taking away private property rights.

But municipal officials say the proposal would restrict the ability of cities and towns to regulate zoning and the short-term rental industry.

The outcome of the bill also has major economic implications for New Hampshire, with the state budget relying on about $40 million in meals and rooms tax revenue from short-term rentals.

This article was originally posted on Sununu opposes proposal on short term rental restrictions