POLL: 80% of Cape Cod Residents Support Vacation Rentals

There is widespread support for vacation rentals throughout Cape Cod, according to a recent poll by American Strategies conducted on behalf of the Cape Cod and Islands Association of REALTORS® (CCIAOR).

More than 80 percent of polled residents are supportive of vacation rentals and value their positive impact on Cape Cod’s economy.

“Eight-in-ten voters support allowing vacation rentals, and the support is intense (46 percent strongly favor, 81 percent total favor),” said Joe Goode of American Strategies. “Overall, only 13 percent of voters oppose vacation rentals, and even less - 5 percent - are strongly opposed.”

The telephone survey was conducted from February 3rd-5th, 2020 and reached 450 registered voters in Barnstable County. The survey asked voters their thoughts on short-term rentals in local neighborhoods.

CCIAOR conducted the poll to gauge what issues should be addressed by the Barnstable Town Council and other towns as many towns are interested in improving the enforcement of policies on short-term rentals. A committee of Barnstable Town Council has been working on new regulations and provided them in draft form several weeks ago for public review.

“Based on our research of voters, it is clear that the Barnstable Town Council is listening to the concerns of their residents, who remain overwhelmingly supportive of our important and longstanding tourism industry. Residents identified their main concerns surrounding short-term rentals: nuisances, such as overcrowding, trash and bad behavior. The proposed Town of Barnstable regulations, which would be the most stringent on Cape Cod, directly address the nuisance issues,” said Ryan Castle, CEO of the REALTORS® Association.

The poll additionally asked which short-term rental regulations residents favor. The issues broadly supported include: health and safety inspections, trash disposal requirements and limits on the number of people who can stay in a short-term rental. All of these outlined concerns by residents are regulations supported by the local REALTORS® and are addressed in the draft rules by the Barnstable Town Council.

Other regulations did not garner much support among residents, including mandating rentals for a set number of days or restricting the ability to rent to only owner-occupied homes or limiting those off-Cape from renting short-term.

In addition to nuisances, housing affordability was a chief concern relative to short-term rentals.

“While housing affordability cannot be directly addressed in short-term rental regulations, it is a priority concern for our association and local leaders. In response to this critical issue, we have put together a blueprint to address the affordability and availability crisis on the Cape. The town council is keenly aware of this issue and is working closely with the business community and local residents to help ease this problem,” Castle said.

Among the key housing affordability initiatives, the town should consider (according to the blueprint) are a by-right accessory dwelling bylaw, incentives for a moderately priced housing development, and an expansion of the town's home buyer down payment assistance program.