Short-term rental regulations begin Jan. 1

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Portsmouth Town Councilors approved a new ordinance on April 9, regulating short-term rentals of the type commonly found on online booking platforms such as Airbnb and HometoGo. The regulations will be enforced effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Property owners who rent a dwelling unit to a tenant for any period of less than 31 days for residential or dwelling purposes must register the property with the town clerk prior to allowing any tenant to occupy the premises.

The town has created an online registration form, which can be found at

Begin at and choose “Licenses (Viewpoint)” at the left to start your application.

Registration is valid for a one-year period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. If the property is registered during the calendar year, the registration shall be valid until Dec. 31 of that same year.

There is a $100 registration fee for each dwelling unit.

At the time of registration, the dwelling unit shall be subject to inspection by the building official or designee and the fire marshal. The building official or designee shall then issue a short-term rental permit stating the maximum occupancy for the dwelling unit.

Important considerations for owners to note under the Ordinance:

  • Maximum occupancy for the dwelling unit shall be 2 persons per bedroom.
  • Parking requirements are provided in the Ordinance and must be met.
  • At a minimum, the Town’s Noise Ordinance, Dog Leash Law, and Dwelling Occupancy Limits must be posted in plain sight in the unit.
  • The record owner may be the local representative, or the owner must authorize a local representative to receive any process, notice or demand required or permitted to be served upon the owner of the premises.
  • Violations shall be enforceable through issuance of a summons by the Town. Violations and citations shall be heard and adjudicated by the Portsmouth Municipal Court.
  • Any violation of this ordinance shall be subject to a fine of not more than $100 per day for a first violation, $250 per day for a second violation, and $500 per day for a third and each subsequent violation, and such fines may be imposed for each day the violation continues.
  • The Zoning Enforcement Official may revoke a short-term rental permit issued under this chapter if it is determined, by a violator’s admission or a municipal court finding of a violation, that three or more violations of this chapter have occurred for the same property within a twelve-month period, and no new permit shall be issued to the property owner for the same property for a period of twelve months following the revocation.

Please review the entire ordinance for full details:

In the near future, the town of Portsmouth will distribute a request for proposals seeking the services of a compliance firm to aid in compliance and enforcement of the ordinance.

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