The Mashpee selectmen set fees for required inspections of short-term rental properties during their meeting on May 4.
The vote was 4-0, with Thomas O’Hara abstaining.
Health Agent Glen E. Harrington recommended the board set a $100 fee for the inspection of a single-family home rented as a whole, $25 for individual bedrooms rented in a home, and $100 for individual apartments, condominiums, trailer homes and accessory apartments rented out.
Homes with more than one accessory apartment will be charged an additional $50 per apartment.
Those fees, which will apply to individual homeowners renting their space rather than commercial businesses renting out space, passed with little debate.
The recommended $300 fee for inspection of commercial properties—specifically Seamist, South Cape Resort, Cape Holiday Estates and Mashpee Commons properties—was revised by the selectmen after substantial debate.
Those four properties, which include timeshares or apartments rented on a short-term basis by their commercial, rather than individual, owners, would have one-third of their units inspected on a rotating basis so every unit is inspected in three years. For each unit inspected, the cost would be $100.
Mr. O’Hara said he abstained from the vote because he owns a timeshare at Seamist that he uses for access to the swimming pool.
The rental fees come after Town Meeting last fall passed new bylaws for rentals shorter than 30 days, in part to regulate rentals made through online services like Airbnb. The bylaws also cover the rental of timeshares or apartments rented by commercial owners for less than 30 days.
Selectmen noted that commercial businesses often rent more units than a homeowner would rent and questioned why the commercial business should be charged less overall per unit than a homeowner.
“It strikes me as grossly inequitable if you’re putting the vast majority of the cost onto the single-family person when the commercial enterprise, where that’s the basis of the business, is only paying $300,” said Andrew R. Gottlieb, chairman of the selectmen.
Mr. Harrington noted that when commercial properties are inspected only a few of the rooms will be inspected, rather than every room.
“My thinking is that it should be maybe a third of the properties that we have tested that they rent out, so that over the course of three years you’re at least inspecting all of them,” Selectman David W. Weeden said.
“I would agree with David, I mean the underlying purpose behind this is to protect people who are renting from being in conditions that are substandard,” Mr. Gottlieb said, “and unless you have some cycle by which you look at units with some regularity, you’re kind of random, you have no way to ensure that you’ve got adequate code compliance.”
“To my mind what is equitable is we just remove the $300 cap and we base the timeshare and multi-unit properties on a $100 per rental unit,” Mr. Gottlieb said before the selectmen voted to approve the fees.