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Governor Baker Sends Back Proposed State Regulation of Short Term Rentals (AirBnb, etc.)

Governor Charlie Baker has sent back the Mass. legislature’s bill to regulate and tax short-term rentals (AirBnb, Homeaway, VRBO, etc.). Formal legislature sessions have concluded for the year which puts the entire regulatory effort in question. The action comes on the heels of the City of Boston passing its own short-term rental ordinance last month with strong measures to limit commercial Airbnb investors.

Baker has proposed an amendment exempting homeowners that rent out their units less than 14 days per year. In addition, the governor wants to limit the information made available to the public from the proposed State registry of short-term rental housing units. Still, the governor expressed some support for the regulation in his amendment letter to the legislature, saying “I support leveling the playing field in the accommodations industry by obligating those individuals or businesses who are running hotel-like businesses to collect and remit the room occupancy tax.”

The bill from the Massachusetts legislature requires hosts to have liability insurance, pay the 5.7% lodging tax while also creating a state-wide host registry. “This legislation incorporates a balanced approach,” said State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, a key sponsor of the bill. He continued, “This ensures the short-term rental market has the proper consumer protection and public safety requirements.” The legislation would be among the strongest in the country in terms of its disclosure requirements.

An Airbnb spokesperson said, “While we appreciate the Massachusetts Senate and House for their progress on home sharing policy and taxation, a public registry of our hosts sets a precedent that negatively impacts families who home share, and the state’s reputation as a business leader.”

Referring to the governor’s action, Michlewitz said, “I’m disappointed, but we will keep working.”

14 Replies to “Governor Baker Sends Back Proposed State Regulation of Short Term Rentals (AirBnb, etc.)

  1. AirBnB does not care about communities such as the North End. If we aren’t careful then we may see this entire community (what’s left of it) disappear. We are a prime location for these short term rentals.

    We need stricter laws and raise the taxes on these AirBnB’s to slow down their growth. We need more families to stay in our community not less.

    1. I agree with you NE Resident so much, not to mention the parties they have through wee hours of the evening, trash thrown out prior to trash day. Let these leaders have all of this in their backyard and see their reaction.

  2. I can see the exemption for small operators who rent their place while they are on vacation, but as far as disclosure, they should disclose. Otherwise, who is tracking that they are renting that few days. Full disclosure is necessary so the real operators can’t hide behind phony shell corporations.

    This is a unnecessary delay to legislation that impacts the North End.

  3. AirBnb is ramping up its donations to elected officials. Mainly it supports Democrats. Massachusetts known recipients .Rufus Gifford and Elizabeth Warren according to Open Secrets. Unfortunately, this site only follows Congressional donations, so donations to state officials are unknown. Also unknown is amounts from investors. It’s biggest recipient was Hilary Clinton.

  4. Thanks for all your hard work on this, Aaron. I hope it can be revived. Boston needs this legislation. Baker is usually so milquetoast. I now have a big reason to vote against him and tell all my friends. This is a big deal for quality of life in the City.

  5. I’m very pro-short-term rental, but I was disappointed in the governor’s AND the legislature’s approach. I think that we need the occupancy taxes to “level the playing field”, and, but for the privacy concerns about home addresses, I like the Legislature’s idea of a state-wide registry. Contrary to the legislature, I don’t think that local towns and cities should have primary responsibility for regulation (but for registration and safety, which are Town and City areas of responsibility under Massachusetts Laws). I think that regulation should be covered by state laws and oversight.

  6. This bill has to do with the overall state of Mass. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Boston still can and will impose it’s own restrictions that have been agreed to regardless of what the state of Mass does……

    1. You are right, but the law enables municipalities room to refine and expand to suit their constituencies. The state is the main regulator (i.e. registry) and the resource for the municilalites to use. If no state law, then there is no central resouce for the municipalities. The whole thing is kinked up.

  7. The most important issue to me is that No Landlord can rent out Airbnb’s unless it is a Landlord Occupied
    Building. I hope to God that is still in effect. The Landlord will be responsible for any inappropriate actions
    of their rentals as Airbnbs. Keep up the good work Aaron.


  8. I can understand the concern abut AirBNB units operating on a level that is in substance a commercial operation in a residential area. ….

    but my reading of this law see that it is too broad in it;s scope.
    it will cover every weekly rental in vacation areas,
    every single room for rent on the cape and islands for the summer,
    every homeowner that rents a room or for a week in any way.
    requiring all homeowners to get huge insurance policies and fire inspections is overkill.
    Most of these homeowners are not competing with hotels and are not part of the problem this was created to solve.
    This bill might even cover a college student;s short term sublet of a room for the summer.

    wait till you get to your cape house you rent next summer and find that the local fire inspector has been through and made them put in big fire extinguishers around the house with the big commercial reflector signs and also added the required exit signs. that’s what fire inspectors do, and all of these rental properties are now being classified as commercial in this bill.

    and that house you rent in Chatham for $ 4K a week now has an extra $ 360 in tax added to the bill . Chatham is talking about 8%.

  9. Adam, If rhe Landlord does Not live in the Building it could be a Nitemare for those surrounding buildings.

    I have experienced this & a short while ago 81 Prince St. Absentee Landlord Building there was chaos after
    midnight & the Police showed up.

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