Any property rented or leased, or offered for rent or lease, must register with the Board of Health under current regulations (Chapter 170 Rental Properties). The rental registration application can be found on the Health Division webpage and can be completed online.
Short term rentals must register with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. For more information, scroll down to Room Occupancy Tax FAQ's.
the November 5, 2020 meeting, the Town Council voted
to withdraw Items 2020-192 and 2020-193, a proposed
General Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance regulating
short term rentals.
On June 18, 2020, the Town
Council introduced two items pertaining to short
term rentals in the Town of Barnstable. One item is
a general ordinance creating a registration process
and associated regulations for the operation of
short term rentals. The other item is a proposed
amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would
recognize short term rental as a permitted use of a
residential dwelling. See the rationale provided
with each item for further explanation and details.
June 18, 2020: Town Council
introduced a proposed General Ordinance and
amendment to Zoning Ordinance.
July 13, 2020:
The Planning Board held a public hearing on the proposed Short Term Rental amendment to the Zoning Ordinance and continued the item.
July 27, 2020:
The Planning Board made a recommendation to the Town Council in favor of the proposed zoning amendment (2020-193) as presented. There was a procedural irregularity with this recommendation and the item was referred back to the Planning Board.
August 20, 2020:
The General Ordinance was referred to a public hearing at the Town Council meeting on this date.
The Town Council opened the public hearing on Item 2020-192 (General Ordinance). A presentation was made on the proposal and the Council heard public comment. The hearing was continued.
The Council voted to withdraw the proposed zoning amendment (2020-193) from
their agenda and refer the item back to the Planning Board.
September 3, 2020: The public hearing on the General Ordinance Item 2020-192 was reopened and Councilor proposed and voted on amendments to the Ordinance. The public comment portion of the hearing was closed. The item was continued to October 1, 2020.
September 14, 2020: The Planning Board held a public hearing on the proposed Zoning Amendment regulating Short Term Rentals (Item 2020-193) and voted to recommend adoption of the amendment as written. The Planning Board’s report to the Town Council is
October 1, 2020: The Town Council deliberated on General Ordinance Item 2020-192 and continued the hearing to November 1, 2020.
October 15, 2020: A public hearing on proposed Zoning Amendment Item 2020-193 has been noticed for the Town Council meeting on this date.
November 5, 2020: Items 2020-192 and 2020-193 were withdrawn by the Town Council.
What is a short-term rental?
In Massachusetts, short term rentals must
now register with the Department of Revenue.
The Commonwealth defines a short-term rental as "an
occupied property that is not a hotel, motel,
lodging house or bed and breakfast establishment,
where at least one room or unit is rented out by an
operator through the use of advance reservations."
Beginning July 1, 2019, room occupancy excise tax
applies to short-term rentals of property for 31
days or less, when that property is offered for
short term rental for more than 14 totals days in a
year. More information on the Commonwealth's new
short term rental legislation can be found below.
Short term rentals are offered for rent in
a number of ways: privately, managed by
leasing/rental agents, or online, through sites such
as Airbnb, VRBO. Month to month
leases, tenancies at will, bed
and breakfasts, lodging houses,
hotels, and/or motels are not considered Short-Term
The Town conducted an online resident survey to
collect information about personal experiences with
short-term rentals, thoughts about potential
regulations, and opinions on benefits and drawbacks
to our community
A summary of the survey was presented to the Town Council Zoning & Regulatory Committee on November 7th. Please
click here to view that summary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I have a concern about a property that I believe is a short-term rental?
If you see or hear any issues related to noise, unpermitted events, or feel unsafe in any way, please call the Barnstable Police (911) for immediate assistance. If there are issues related to garbage, refuse, septage, or other public health concerns, please contact the Health Department at 508-862-4644 to report issues.
Legislation was recently signed into law which subjects short-term rentals of property to the room occupancy excise, G.L. c. 64G, as of July 1, 2019.
The new law imposes state and local excises on short-term rentals of property for more than 14 days in a calendar year, starting July 1, 2019 for which a rental contract was entered into on or after January 1, 2019.
All short-term rental operators will be required to register with DOR. Operators may choose to allow an intermediary or other agent to handle the rental of their property and register with and submit returns and tax due to DOR on their behalf. The DOR anticipates the registry to be up and running in March 2019.
Where can I get more information regarding the new law?
Many of the questions the town has received can be answered by referencing the Department of Revenue’s website which includes an FAQ. You can find the FAQ on their website at: DOR Frequently Asked Questions
I am an operator of a short-term rental. Is there an organization I can contact that can assist me with understanding an operator’s responsibilities under the new law?
Further questions can be directed to Mr. Ryan Castle, CEO of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors at 508-957-4300.
Is there a Town of Barnstable employee I can contact with questions regarding the new law?
Mark Milne, Director of Finance, can be contacted at 508-862-4660.
Why is the Town of Barnstable’s local excise tax on short-term rental 6%?
The local excise tax rate on short-term rentals in each community of the Commonwealth is set at the rate that is in effect for hotels, motels, Bed & Breakfasts, and lodging houses at the time the law was passed.
Who pays the Town the local excise tax?
No. The local excise tax collected by each operator/agent of a short-term rental is paid to the Department of Revenue.
I am an operator of a short-term rental. Who do I pay the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund excise tax to?
This tax, along with the state excise tax and the local excise tax are all paid to the Department of Revenue.
Is there anything further I need to do if I host a short-term rental?
Yes. You need to register your rental property with the Town of Barnstable Health Division. Please see the link below for the rental application. This is an annual registration that needs to be submitted every year. If you have any further questions please contact the Health Division at 508-862-4644.
What are the total taxes that need to be collected on a short-term rental located in Barnstable?
There is a state excise tax of 5.7%, a Town of Barnstable excise tax of 6% and the Cape Cod & Islands Water Protection Fund excise tax of 2.75% for a total of 14.45% tax that needs to be applied.
What is the Cape Cod & Islands Water Protection Fund?
This fund was created to assist the towns on Cape Cod and the Islands in addressing the area wide wastewater management plan under section 208 of the federal Clean Water Act. All 15 towns on Cape Cod are currently members. Nantucket and the communities on Martha’s Vineyard are not currently members. More information on the new fund can be found here.
What is the Cape Cod & Islands Water Protection Board?
This board was created to oversee the Cape Cod & Islands Water Protection Fund. The board will consist of 1 member from each community that belongs to the fund. The management board duties include determining the method for subsidy allocation, including but not limited to, an equitable distribution among participating municipalities for projects in the form of a grant or debt relief. The Board ensures that monies from the fund are spent only for the purposes listed in the law.
Is there a process to ensure that revenue for projects and debt relief is evenly distributed to participating towns across the Cape and Islands?
Yes. The legislation includes the language that the management board’s duties will include determining the method for subsidy allocation, including, but not limited to, an equitable distribution among participating municipalities consistent with revenue deposited from each municipality into the fund.
Are there any exemptions from the room occupancy excise?
The following establishments are exempt from the excise taxes:
Certified alcohol and drug free housing
Tenancies-at-will/month to month leases
Lodging accommodations provided to seasonal employees by employers
Employees of the U.S. Military from the excise on short-term rentals/transient accommodations while traveling on official orders.