MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (APRIL 18, 2022) – Middletown will continue to monitor short-term rentals in the community. 

Hearing from colleagues and residents during a meeting in Town Hall, the Town Council agreed to revisit the issue at an upcoming session, likely on May 2.

Council members said this was especially true as Newport considers a ban on all short-term rentals, meaning Middletown might see more impacts than before.

“It looks like we might have some work ahead of us here,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said following the hour-long conversation.

The issue of short-term rentals in Middletown has been an on and off again matter over the last several years.

Going into last summer, some on the council said there was cause for concern, based on feedback they’d received from people in the community. Besides being disruptive, they said short-term rentals hurt the fabric of neighborhoods and took housing off the market that could be sold or rented to those looking to live in Middletown.

In response, others — including a number of short-term rental operators — said the “problem” was being exaggerated and the issues were caused by a few properties and not something that did not plague the community town wide.

To get a firm grasp on the data, the Police Department started tracking short-term rental related calls for the first time in the summer of 2021. Before then, Middletown Police did not specifically collect information regarding short-term rentals and lumped those calls in with other requests for service.

Based on current ordinances, Police Chief William Kewer has said there were 29 noise complaints and 19 calls about improper parking at short-term rentals. The chief added most of those calls were addressed without any problem, where officers asked those at a short-term rental to quiet down and a return visit was not required.

Overall, Kewer said a vast majority of short-term rental operators in Middletown complied with the rules. Like anything else, Kewer has said there were a handful of problem short-term rentals that required the most of the Police Department’s time and energy when issues arose.

To help try to get a jump on problems before they take root over the summer, Kewer has said officers will be trying to speak with the owners of short-term rentals where there were prior issues. That way, the owners are on notice and aware that the authorities are paying attention.

During the discussion, Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said the Town and its staff took the short-term rental situation very seriously. However, Brown noted no matter how much the community did, there would be some who wouldn’t be happy unfortunately.

“The simple fact is they don’t want a short-term rental next door,” Brown said. 

Council Vice President Thomas Welch III and Councilwoman Terri Flynn said they hear from plenty of residents that there’s more of a problem than the Town perceives. 

“Personally, I don’t agree there’s not a short-term rental issue in Middletown…” Welch said. “I keep hearing from a group of people over and over and over.”

Others agreed, saying some neighborhoods seemed to have more than their fair share of short-term rentals.

“Is this we don’t want it to be a problem, so we say it’s not a problem,” resident Robert Connerney said. 

Short-term rental owner Leon Amarant said based on what he’s seen, there’s plenty of support for short-term rentals in Town.

“There are a few people that are upset and I get that,” Amarant said. “I’m upset with a lot of things in Middletown as well, but you know what, some things don’t go my way and it’s what’s best for the community.”

Resident John Bagwill said it was important to consider the impact of short-term rentals on the community as a whole.

“Most of these short-term rentals have taken a house off the market for a family who would like to live here,” Bagwill said.