Board airs proposal for short-term rentals in Hanover

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/29/2020 10:12:34 PM
Modified: 1/29/2020 10:12:29 PM

HANOVER — After hosting two public listening sessions on the subject, members of the Planning Board this week discussed a proposed zoning amendment that could wind up allowing some short-term rentals in Hanover, but only for “hosted” properties where the owner is present on the lot, rather than investment properties.

Some “unhosted” rentals at seasonal cottages around Goose Pond may also be allowed, based on the board’s discussions Tuesday night. No formal action was taken and any change would also have to be approved by Town Meeting voters.

The town has banned short-term rentals of 30 days or less for the past 33 years, but some Hanover property owners list their homes or apartments on home-sharing websites like Airbnb and Vrbo for rental.

Planning Board Director Rob Houseman told the Planning Board on Tuesday that one property on Route 10 last year grossed more than $216,000, including rental and cleaning fees, after being rented out short-term for a total of 67 days. It had been listed as available for 210 days of the year, Houseman said, relying on data from a subscription website called AirDNA that the town uses to track such activity. Houseman added that he believes it was an unhosted rental, meaning that the property owner was likely not living there while it was being rented out.

He said on Wednesday that four other properties in town grossed more than $100,000 apiece.

About 30 property owners in town have been notified that such practices are not in compliance with current zoning, he said.

At the meeting, Planning Board Member Iain Sim identified three goals for the implementation of new regulations: that any amendment must be designed to “protect the housing supply,” “preserve neighborhood character” and “ensure accountability of the landlords.”

Planning Board members largely agreed that they wanted to prevent investment properties from being used as short-term rentals. They plan to begin by allowing an owner to list a property for short-term rental only if he or she lists that property as their primary residence and is on the property at the time it is being rented.

The Planning Board is also interested in limiting the number of total days in a year a property could be listed for short-term rental. These restrictions are also meant to help protect rental prices for full-time tenants in the town.

Planning Board members were concerned about a variety of potential loopholes, including landlords pretending to be present when they are not in order to cheat the time limits.

“Enforcement, compliance and regulations are going to be really tough,” said Planning Board member Elizabeth Esinhart.

Jeremy Katz, a Hanover landlord and Dartmouth alumnus who attended the meeting, told the board that “there are highly seasonal reasons for rentals” and suggested the need for special regulations around the college’s annual graduation ceremonies.

Board members made clear that protecting Hanover’s small-town feel was a priority. “I don’t want to lose track of the fact that we are a town of 11,000 people,” Planning Board member Nancy Carter said during the discussion.

Discussion on the measure is expected to resume at the Planning Board’s next meeting on Feb. 18.

Rohan Chakravarty can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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