New Hampshire

Woman Fights Against City's Airbnb Cease and Desist Order

A Portsmouth, New Hampshire, resident is fighting back after the city has ordered her to stop renting out her guest house to short-term visitors.

The Jenny family has lived at 81 Lincoln Ave. for 12 years. Last year, they bought their neighbor’s house to be a guest house. They say they’ve enjoyed hosting people from all around the world through Airbnb and VRBO – but now the city has issued them a cease and desist.

Barbara Jenny says she and her husband really bought the house to pass down to their kids someday. In the meantime though, they’ve renovated it and are renting it out to short-term visitors to help pay the second mortgage.

“That was the goal, definitely not make a killing, just to hold onto it and enjoy it,” Jenny said.

But their neighbor isn’t happy about it – and complained to the city several times.

“If you, for example, were to buy single family home in nice neighborhood, you should be entitled to rely on the fact that someone will not open a business next door,” explained Portsmouth’s City Attorney Robert Sullivan.

Portsmouth does not allow residential properties to be used as short-term rentals. But with the growing popularity of websites like Airbnb, Sullivan says that zoning ordinance is being challenged more often.

On Thursday, Jenny and her husband filed an appeal to the city’s cease and desist order because she thinks her neighbor, and city leaders are thinking about short-term rentals all wrong.

“It’s a little bit xenophobic I have to say, like they’re afraid of people from away and foreigners,” Jenny said.

She believes opening up homes to guests is a perfect way to show the world what Portsmouth has to offer.

“We’ve had people from Canada, people from Japan,” she explained. “Bringing in different people adds life to the neighborhood.”

We did reach the neighbor responsible for the complaints. He is on vacation and declined to comment.

Jenny is looking forward to a public hearing on this sometime in October. 

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