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.”