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Town to Vote on new Short Term Rental Bylaw

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On January 31, the Select Board approved a Warrant for Town Meeting to adopt a new Short Term Rental Bylaw.

Short-term rentals, such as those offered on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, can have a variety of negative impacts on neighborhoods, including:

  1. Displacement of long-term residents: As short-term rentals become more prevalent, they can drive up housing costs, making it difficult for low-income or fixed-income residents to remain in the neighborhood.
  2. Increase in noise and disturbance: Short-term rentals are often occupied by people who are unfamiliar with the area and may engage in loud or disruptive behavior, causing issues for permanent residents.
  3. Decrease in housing availability: When landlords and property owners opt to list their properties as short-term rentals instead of as traditional long-term rentals, the supply of available housing can decrease, exacerbating the housing affordability crisis.
  4. Changes in community character: Short-term rentals can alter the fabric of a neighborhood, transforming it into a more transient and commercial area, and reducing the sense of community for permanent residents.
  5. Safety concerns: The high turnover of guests in short-term rentals can raise concerns about crime and safety in the neighborhood.

The importance of the matter was affirmed to the Select Board via a letter sent January 25 and signed by eight Pike Street families. In it, they wrote:

“The residents of Pike Street who have signed this letter can all tell you this by-law is necessary today, as an unregulated short-term rental property emerged on our street in early 2022, creating upheaval and concern for all of us. The previous owners passed away, and the house was sold to a new owner with no ties to Hopkinton. A few months after purchase, for purposes that were unknown at the time to all of us on Pike Street, the new owner started making numerous renovations, which resulted in the home being illegally split into two separate units, and both units quickly appeared on short-term rental websites. To be precise, illegal renovations and repairs were made, trash and recycling were thrown on the curb or strewn throughout the yard on a regular basis, the upkeep of the property and maintenance of the yard became non-existent, functional and cosmetic repairs that most homeowners would make were entirely neglected, and a preponderance of single day rentals had turned the property into Hopkinton’s only hotel room, which I believe would be frowned upon by members of the Board and town, since hotel-zoned areas of Hopkinton have been rejected in the past.”

The bylaw would give the Select Board the right to issue short term rental licenses. Licenses will not follow the property; if sold, the license would be terminated. Short term rentals would be subject to inspection by the Board of Health, Fire Department, and Director of Municipal Inspections. The new bylaw would permit rentals for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 30 days.

There are currently 7 short term rentals in Hopkinton listed on AirBnB.

Town residents will have the opportunity to vote on this bylaw change at Town Meeting on Monday, May 1.


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