Letter to the Editor: Short Term Rentals Are Good For Rhode Island

To the Editor:

Several bills are on the State House floor involving Short Term Rentals (STR’s) that could impact the livelihood of Rhode Islanders. One bill allows a complete ban on STR’s at a local level.

2022 statistics directly from Middletown police show 46 calls to STR’s (only 1 for noise). 45 calls were related to trash, parking, and non-registration. In rare cases rental homes are run poorly with lack of regard for neighboring houses. This should be the area of focus of local governments. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I own/manage 5 island rental homes that service 3000 tourists a year. I primarily cater to guests ages 30-60. Imagine the dollars each one of these tourists sprinkles into our local economy. They pay parking fees at our beaches, and keep our favorite restaurants, shopping destinations, and tourism attractions in business. I employ a landscaper, handyman and two cleaning people. Existing RI state law encouraged me to engage in this business. Now they want to take away what they approved by law.

STR homes require little town resources. Compare a 6 bedroom house with 3 children vs. a year round rental home that provides lodging for a tourist family coming in for a wedding or vacation. Basic math 3 kids at $21,457 per year (school) multiplied by 12 years of public education, that comes to $772,452 (one rental home impact). STR’s decrease resident’s tax burden dramatically.

Are we going to throw away our 8 billion dollar tourism industry? RI is a tourism destination and needs a mix of housing to satisfy all needs. Most that complain about short term rentals are retired and wealthy. They have a “not in my backyard” mentality. None of them will admit they stay in rental homes when they go on vacation “good for me but not for thee” as they preach about made-up issues associated with STR’s. They whoop up fear in town council members by citing emotional platitudes about how disruptive outsiders are in our community. The bitter tribalism they conjure is resentment and jealousy towards productive people participating in commerce, and intolerance of outsiders in their community.

The United States of America is a place where you are supposed to be able to buy real estate and participate in commerce with reasonable government regulation and oversight. Americans should be able to travel freely in their country and visit RI and stay in STR’s with their family if that’s their preferred method of lodging. Town and State governments should stop micromanaging our lives and make our schools better, maintain our roads, and fund our teachers, police and fire departments.

Chris Sousa
Middletown, RI




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