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N.H. Housing Appeals Board Sides with Freedom Couple on STR Issue

An article in the Conway Daily Sun (link below) discusses the NH Housing Board's decision that will not allow Freedom's new STR policies to impact owners who were renting prior to the March 2022 rental ordinance.  Here is a link to the VRBO listing

Here is a link to the full story:
https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/local/state-board-finds-against-freedom-on-strs/article_a69e1f12-b3a9-11ee-a139-8b007c7781a0.html

Apparently, this ruling means that the Cotters, and other owners who rented their properties before 2022, will not have to get a conditional permit, are exempt from health and safety requirements of the ordinance and are not subject to a 90-day rental cap per year.

Here are the key points from the article:

  • The New Hampshire Housing Appeals Board ruled in favor of James and Susan Cotter against the town of Freedom regarding its short-term rental (STR) ordinance.
  • The Cotters own an A-frame house on Ossipee Lake and have rented it out since 2004. They were represented by Matt Johnson of Devine Millimet & Branch.
  • The town of Freedom was represented by Diane Gorrow of Soule Leslie Kidder Sayward.
  • The Housing Appeals Board was established in 2020 as an alternative to the Superior Court for planning and zoning cases.
  • The board's decision means pre-2022 property owners like the Cotters are exempt from obtaining a conditional permit and are not subject to the 90-day rental cap or health and safety requirements of the new ordinance.
  • Johnson previously defeated the town of Conway in a similar case at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
  • The board stated there was no evidence the Cotters' property use was a nuisance or harmful to public health.
  • Jerry DeCristofaro, president of the Association for Responsible Rentals, supports safety measures but opposes different treatment for STRs.
  • The case centered on the Cotters' property at 440 Pequawket Trail, listed on VRBO. Here is a link to the VRBO listing
  • Freedom enacted its STR ordinance in March 2022 and began enforcing it against properties like the Cotters'.
  • The board agreed with the Cotters that their rental use of the property was a pre-existing, nonconforming use.
  • The town's argument about health and safety requirements was rejected by the board, citing specific legal precedents.
  • The board found no evidence of nuisance or public harm from the Cotters' STR use, and suggested traditional enforcement mechanisms for any issues.

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