The city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has denied a couple the right to rent a property they own on Air BnB. Matthew Beebe and Barbara Jenny bought the home next to theirs for their Daughter who travels and planned to use short-term rentals until her return, but the city has issued a cease and desist order.
[City attorney] Sullivan explained on Thursday that unless something is specifically allowed under Portsmouth’s zoning ordinance, it is not permissible.
And any business owner who hosts people for a fee, regardless of how they book the property, has to make sure they follow city ordinances for bed and breakfasts or hotels.
Sullivan said that an administrative policy prohibits renting property for less than 30 days. That policy was created to protect residential neighborhoods, Sullivan said.
“One of the purposes of the zoning ordinance is to protect people from properties being used in a manner that is inconsistent with a neighborhood,” Sullivan said.
According to a city ZBA member Arthur Parrott, any transaction where money is exchanged makes it a business.
So if it’s not allowed it’s prohibited, and if money is exchanged you are a business. Got it? No yard sales, no lemonade stands. Get a permit, pay your taxes, or else!
I’m guessing Martha’s in the clear because she probably didn’t charge rent for the eight people using her address to vote, especially for that lawyer from Arkansas who voted absentee from her Portsmouth address. He wasn’t even in New Hampshire at the time. I’m not sure if he was ever in New Hampshire. So he can’t count as in-residence, except for voting purposes of course (wink-wink).
No city ordinance against that.
I can’t speak to the matter of her 2008 “campaign manager” either, who “lived” in her home for six months and was presumably on her payroll. Did she pay rent and was that reported to the city, state, or as an in-kind contribution of some sort? I’m sketchy on the requirements for live-in campaign managers in parts of Portsmouth that don’t typically take to renting.
I suppose she could have been a live-in political au-pair? We know there are exceptions for that.
And as long as the neighbors aren’t complaining, you can transact whatever sort of “business” you like. A point Barbara tried to make to the Portsmouth ZBA. Her presentation included evidence that the zoning law they are using to shut her down is unequally applied.
Imagine that? Unequally applied, in Portsmouth.
Barbara could consider running for the NH State Senate. She could then claim the short-term rentals were for political friends doing the people’s work. She could say she isn’t running a business or a motel, in violation of any city Zoning ordinance, and everyone in city government would nod approvingly and look the other way.
Or if you don’t want all that bother of campaigning skip the election bid. Tell the city they are Democrat campaign workers domiciled strictly for voting purposes. They’ll be gone in a few days or weeks but will use that address next November to register and vote for Democrats.
No one in a progressive city government like Portsmouth’s would ever complain about that. That might violate those ‘voters’ rights.