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Renting on Nantucket

Compass Rose Real Estate has hundreds of vacation homes available in all shapes and sizes from a tiny rose covered cottage to a magnificent estate and everything in between. We handle rentals in virtually every area of the island from Siasconset to Madaket from fabulous to fairly frugal. Our rental agents work hard to find your family a holiday home that suits your needs. The nice people we meet in the course of doing this business are what make it fun and keep it interesting. We look forward to working with you to find the perfect accommodations.

Confirmed Availability

Please note that any quoted availability is ‘as of this minute’ and that we do not have the ability to ‘hold’ properties. This is typically because homeowners list their homes for rent with multiple agencies on the island. Even though we have verified availability with the owner just now, another agency could potentially reach out to the homeowner with a confirmed request at any moment. With few exceptions, the home is rented to the first agent who represents a lease to the homeowner that has been signed by the prospective tenant.

Property Availability on Nantucket changes like the tides. All dates and rates must be confirmed with the Homeowner before booking. Only a fully executed lease guarantees a rental.

Rental Process/Timeline

Once you have selected a property and we have verified the dates and rate, our agent will prepare a lease and email it to you for signature. Typically, we use Adobe which allows you to create a digital signature and then the document is redirected back to us. We will happily walk you through the process if you are new to digital signatures.

It is at this time, when you are signing the lease, that you will be asked to place the rental deposit check in the mail to your agent’s attention. Compass Rose Real Estate does not accept credit card payments at this time. Depending on how early you book your reservation, we have the ability to break total lease funds into 2 or 3 payments. However, all fund, including the refundable security deposit, need to be in-hand no later than 45 days prior to your arrival. The payment schedule will be clearly detailed on your lease. Your initial check will not be deposited until our agent has a fully signed lease agreement unless otherwise indicated in writing prior you signing the lease.

Once we are in receipt of your signed lease, we email it to the homeowner for their signature. They sign the lease and return it to us. We will e-mail a fully executed copy of the lease to you for your records. It is at this time that you have a guaranteed reservation; once all parties have signed the lease.

The Season

Our season kicks off Memorial Day and runs through June, July, August, September and into October. The high season runs from the last week of June through the first week of September. Of course July and August command the top rates due to the warm weather and school calendars. For families it does not matter if your children are in kindergarten or college their summer vacation usually falls in this window propping up the demand and the price for these 10 weeks.

The Shoulder Season

In the spring and fall it is a different story. In May, June, September and October the crowds are gone due to that school calendar causing the price per week to be much more reasonable. Consequently we see a lot of young newly wed couples and older retired couples enjoying the island in the shoulder season. Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. The weather is often beautiful, the restaurants and museums are not crowded, etc. The ocean has had all summer to warm up, the Hydrangeas & beach plumbs are still in bloom and you seem to have the beach to your self. Weddings and honeymoons have become very popular in these shoulder months. I think you will find the quiet beauty of our island really shines through.

Check In/Check Out Time

Most rental properties set a 3:00 pm check in time – as they need the house empty and available to cleaning staff prior to your arrival. It would be wise if you plan for that check in time when you buy your tickets. Some arrival times vary, this will be in the body of the lease. Most of our homes require a 10:00 am check out time . This will allow the cleaning people the time they need to get the house ready for the next incoming family. If you have questions about this arrangement be sure to ask your rental agent. In some cases it may be possible to leave your bags in the garage while they clean the house.

Security Deposit

Since each home is privately owned, we will make all arrangements with the homeowner. A lease will be prepared, generally a down payment of 50% will be required with the remainder due at least 45 days before your rental begins. A security deposit, determined by each homeowner, will be due along with your final payment.

Often the security is 10% of the total rent but, depending on the owner and quality of the furnishings it can be more however not less than $300.

Short-Term Rental Tax

At the end of December 2018, Governer Baker signed into law a bill regulating and taxing short-term rentals. The state tax is 5.7% and the local tax is 6% for a total of 11.7% of the rent due from the tenant along with the final payment. This new rental tax is only applicable to stays that begin on or after July 1st 2019, and are less than 32 days.



Because these homes are owned privately the landlords differ on how much they will cover of your departure turnover cleaning. Most land lords include between 2 and 6 hours of departure cleaning in the price of rent. It is stated in the body of each lease so you will know what to expect. EXAMPLE: If the cleaning comes to 8 hours and the landlord only covers 4 hours, the remainder will be taken from the security deposit and an accounting will be returned with your security balance.

Because there are only about 5 hours between tenants, landlords expect the tenants to make an effort to clean their way out the door. Take out trash (clear bags only), use recycle bins, wash your dishes, strip the beds and launder as many sheets and towels as you can as you have breakfast and pack the car. Cleaning people charge approx. $25 to $30 an hour so it adds up quickly. Often the very high end rental homes include the final cleaning. If daily maid service is desired we can ask the landlords cleaning crew to handle it or help you find a private service. It would be best to set this up ahead of time.


The Town of Nantucket has mandated that all trash be in clear bags. All recycling materials must be separated; glass in one bag by itself, plastics and tin and aluminum in a second bag together, and newspaper in a third bag. Items must be washed clean of food matter. Rubbish haulers are not permitted to take any noncompliant trash nor will they sort and re-bag any noncompliant trash. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.


Most homeowners do not allow renters to have pets in their vacation homes for many reasons ranging from pet allergies to the widespread presence of deer ticks (and related serious tick-borne diseases) on Nantucket. You will have greater success finding the perfect vacation rental if you make plans to leave your pets at home. We do however have a small number of properties which welcome furry friends. These landlords often insist on an additional pet deposit to secure the rental. The local MSPCA has a kennel if you should wish to board your pet on island. Be sure to arrange it in advance.

If you notify Compass Rose Real Estate agent in the beginning of your search that will be traveling with your pet(s), we will do our best to find a suitable, pet-friendly rental for your entire family!

We do list ‘pets allowed’ in search criteria for rentals on our website.

Booking Fee

A $50 booking fee is due with the first payment of rent.


Our fee is paid to us by the landlord therefore at no additional expense to the tenant.


We at Compass Rose look forward to helping you plan a fun, memorable Nantucket vacation and many return trips!