Rep. Aaron Michlewitz appeared before the North End/Waterfront Residents Association (NEWRA) Thursday evening to give an update on the short term rentals/AirBnB legislation.
Gov. Charle Baker sent back the Mass. legislature’s bill to regulate and tax short-term rentals (AirBnb, Homeaway, VRBO, etc.) in the beginning of August after formal legislature sessions have concluded for the year.
Michlewitz said the bill proposed was a strong one and that he was proud of it.
“I thought it was going to be over,” he said. “It’s a never ending story to say the least.”
In the proposed bill, short term rentals would be taxed by the state 5.7 percent and could be additionally taxed by their municipality up to 6 percent. If an owner had two short term rentals in the same municipality, that town or city could tax an additional 3 percent. A portion of that tax would go to affordable housing.
“It’s the dual ownership that’s taking up the housing stock,” said Michlewitz.
Also, in the proposed bill, there would be an online public registry of every available short term rental in the Commonwealth.
“It allows for municipal and public enforcement to take place,” said Michlewitz.
However, Baker sent back the bill with four proposed amendments including an amendment exempting homeowners that rent out their units less than 14 days per year. Also, he wants the number of the address removed from the public registry. Baker did say he was in favor of some aspects of the bill.
“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,” he said in his letter to the legislature.
Michlewitiz believes limiting the information to the public cuts away at the registry and is against the idea.
According to Michlewitiz, there are a few things that can happen now. The Mass. legislature could let the bill die and start over, they could accept the amendments and the sign the bill into law and hope to change it down the road or they could negotiate with the Gov. on the amendments, which he thinks is most likely.
“I don’t know what is going to happen, but we will keep working on it,” he said.