A 2021 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling has implications for Nantucket and other Bay State communities debating new short-term rental regulations. 

In Styller v. Zoning Board of Appeals, the court handed a win to the North Shore community in its attempts to limit short-term rentals in single-family zones. 

The lawsuit was filed by homeowner Alexander Styller, who promoted on social media a “Splash Mansion Pool Party” at his 5,000-square-foot home in 2016. One guest died of gunshot wounds.  

In the aftermath, the Lynnfield building inspector issued a cease-and-desist order against Styller for short-term rentals at his property, while the town amended its zoning to ban them in single-family zones. Styller challenged the town in state Land Court. 

Two dueling visions of how Nantucket’s long tradition of vacation rentals should respond to high housing costs and quality-of-life issues will go head to head on May 2.

Last summer, the SJC upheld Lynnfield’s ban on short-term rentals in single-family zones, ruling that they were inconsistent with the intended use in such districts. 

The ruling made clear that the legality of such bans depend upon the community, said Jessica Gray Kelly, a partner at Freeman, Mathis & Gary LLP in Boston. 

“Lynnfield is a bedroom community, whereas places like Nantucket are very different,” Kelly said. “Short-term rentals are ingrained in the community all year round and it has been that way for years and years.” 

Nantucket officials’ proposed requirements for registration, inspection and nuisance fines reflect a balanced approach to the issue, in contrast to Lynnfield’s all-out ban, Kelly said. 

“What the board is proposing is to think of ways to regulate short-term rentals to prevent the negative aspects of those transient tenants,” she said. 

SJC Ruling Backs Local Authority

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min