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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFSV7c0o1BA&feature=youtu.be

A new legislative proposal by State Representative Aaron Michlewitz would enforce a three-tier regulation on properties being rented on a short-term basis through online portals such as AirBnB, HomeAway, and Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO). This issue first arose two years ago when, driven by neighborhood questions and concerns, State Reps Aaron Michlewitz and RoseLee Vincent proposed a bill to introduce regulations on short-term rentals. Since then this industry has expanded, creating national debates over AirBnB and similar sites that have driven states to impose limits and fines on these services. In Massachusetts and the City of Boston, we too have questions about these rentals and our state leaders are working to address them.

At a January meeting with the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), City Councilor Sal LaMattina spoke about Boston’s upcoming proposal. In line with the City’s efforts, Michlewitz has filed a bill with the state legislature calling for similar, but stricter regulations. Both the city and state proposals focus on generating tax revenue, protecting housing stock and, most importantly, ensuring neighborhood and renter safety.

“First, and foremost, we must maintain that any, and all, Public Safety measures are undertaken, and adhered to, for the protection of both renters and residents in the neighboring community. Inspections, proper insurance, and greater levels of transparency with access to information are vital to ensure this.” – State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz

All units to be used as short-term rentals will be required to register with the state and this information will be made available to the public. Units will undergo annual inspections and hosts will be required to make renters aware of fire extinguishers, gas shut off valves, emergency exits, and other safety resources. Rentals must also be covered by a homeowner’s insurance of at least $1 million per unit. In addition, Michlewitz’s bill proposes three categories of hosts:

  • “Residential Hosts” are individuals who use the unit or home to be rented as their primary address. They cannot rent the unit for more than 60 days per year and they must pay a 4% state tax and up to 5% local tax.
  • “Commercial Hosts” are individuals who rent out units for more than 60 days per year and / or rent multiple units as short-term rentals. They must pay an 8% state tax and up to 10% local tax.
  • “Professionally Managed Hosts” are business entities or individuals that have a rent management system to oversee properties. Units offered for rent must be for at least five nights and hosts must pay a 5.7% state tax and up to 6% local tax.

With the regulations proposed in Michlewitz’s bill, an estimated $50 million in revenue will be generated for state and local government. A significant portion of these new funds will be allocated towards programs for low and moderate incoming housing.

View the video above to hear State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz speak to the NEWNC earlier this week. At the meeting, Michlewitz discussed short-term rental regulations and also a few other main points he is focusing on this session. Addressed in the video is another important bill he has filed with the Department of Public Safety addressing concerns about regulating sex offenders who are registered at homeless shelters. Michlewitz is advocating for stricter guidelines around re-acclimating sex offenders into society.

 


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10 COMMENTS

  1. There is another company that is worse than airbnb. called City Share out of NYC. They should be included in the net of companies that need to be regulated.

    • Not the portals that are being regulated, but the short term landlords that should register. Also sounds like they will be paying the taxes. Doesn’t mention the portals being responsible for tax withholdings, so I would assume landlords must pay. Also Boston will have to watch for landlords who claim a residential exemption on their property tax.

  2. can this guy pass some legislation to heavily fine and/or throw in jail people that let their dogs doo doo on the sidewalk or people just just leave the doo doo bag behind on the sidewalk or curb? the doo doo situation in the north end is having far more negative impact on the quality of life than airbnb.

    • Agree 100%. The problem is always enforcement. As a pedestrian, I routinely watch 3-5 cars go through EVERY SINGLE red light while I am waiting on a crosswalk. It is clearly illegal but is never enforced. Dog poop? Will not even be on law enforcement’s radar – sadly.

  3. Do these short term rentals have any specific insurance? Will neighbors have a contact in case the renters have loud parties or other troubling activities?
    I appreciate Aaron stepping up on this issue.
    Mary

    • There was an issue with a short term rental on my street. I had to contact airbnb they do not give out information on the people who are renting out their apartments. By the time they responded the offending visitors were already gone. They passed along my complaint but I never heard another word. So short answer to the contact question is NO

  4. If you live in a condo, worth checking the master deed to see if short term rentals are prohibited. If that’s the case the owner could be fined by the condo association.

  5. I think it’s great to have a pro-active approach to regulated short-term rentals, but I was concerned in the presentation with regards to the insurance requirement. Aaron mentions $1,000,000 dollar requirement, and then leads to the Airbnb insurance that is provided for every booking, called “Host Protection”. Yes, Airbnb is one of the biggest and does offer the free $1,000,000 host guarantee, but no one has seen a copy of the policy, and there is no documentation of claims paid? Are we to believe that every gets a $1,000,000 of free liability insurance? On the Host Protection website, https://www.airbnb.com/host-protection-insurance, it states there are exclusions for: assault and battery, sexual abuse, personal and advertising injury, and so on. So let’s use an example. My neighbor signs up with Airbnb and rents his property to a pedophile, who decides to sexually assault my daughter. I then sue my neighbor as he vetted the pedophile. According to the Airbnb Host Protection, my neighbor would not have coverage as sexual abuse is excluded. It’s also my understanding that standard “commercial general liability” does not exclude sexual abuse. I don’t think the new legislation should rely on Airbnb and Silicon Valley to decide what type of insurance Airbnb Host’s should have in MA. I think they should be treated like any other business and be required to show proof of insurance through a certificate of insurance (COI), of $1,000,000 in commercial general liability. You don;y see all coffee shops get FREE insurance that’s limited and it suffice for business requirements. Airbnb rental properties are business and are no different than a Hilton Hotel. Hilton buys insurance, why shouldn’t an Airbnb Host? There are plenty of insurance carriers that can sell this insurance to Hosts, just Google “short term rental liability insurance”. Also, Aaron states that most all rental platforms offer some type of blanket liability for all rentals. NO, Airbnb is the only one. VRBO does not, HomeAway does not, Flipkey does not, Stay Alfred does not, etc. Again, I think the pro active approach is great, but make sure you require the “short term rental owners” provide proof of commercial general liability of $1,000,000. Thanks

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