State regulations on short-term rentals (AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO, etc.) are back on the table after the Massachusetts House and Senate reached an agreement in late December, during the waning days of the two-year legislation session.

Governor Baker received the revised bill on Thursday, December 20, and now has ten days to decide if he will sign the new version. As the Governor’s office was involved in the compromise bill, Baker is expected to sign off shortly.

Mass. legislature submitted a bill back in July 2018 to regulate and tax short-term rentals across the state, but Gov. Baker sent it back with a few proposed amendments. The new bill incorporates Baker’s proposals:

  • Homeowners who rent out their units less than 14 days per year would be exempt from taxes, but still be required to be registered and insured.
  • Information made available to the public through a registry of short-term rental housing units would be limited to only street names without numbers. Cities and towns, including Boston, would be allowed to include street numbers on their own websites.
  • An extra Boston Convention and Exhibition Center financing fee would be postponed until BCEC bonds are paid off, which could happen in 10 years, but more likely double that.

The bill kept much of its original structure, still requiring hosts to have liability insurance and pay the same 5.7% lodging tax that is paid by hotels. If a property owner exceeds the 14-day maximum that makes them exempt, they would have to pay the tax for all of the days rented, not just the ones after those first two weeks.

Representative Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, who negotiated the bill for the House, expressed excitement about reaching a compromise before the year’s end:

“It was a complex issue with a lot of intricacies. There was some good and healthy discussions and negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor’s office, which I think has provided a better bill at the end of the day. We’re happy to have it completed.”

If Governor Baker signs the new bill, the taxes would go into effect July 1, 2019 with the registration and other regulations on September 30th.

The state bill will not change Boston’s city ordinance on short term rentals, passed by the Boston City Council on June 13 and signed by Mayor Walsh the following day.

The City of Boston ordinance was expected to go into effect January 1, 2019 with a provision allowing current lease holders operating short term rentals to continue operating until September 1, 2019. However, due to the recent lawsuit by Airbnb, the city has indicated it may not enforce regulations while the suit is pending in court.

The Boston ordinance bans short term rentals from non-owner occupied buildings, eliminating investor units and absentee landlords. It also creates a public registry, similar to the proposed Massachusetts bill.

Note: This article was amended to clarify that renters under 14 days will still need to be registered and insured, along with revised dates when the taxes and regulations will be effective. In addition, we noted the City of Boston may still include street numbers, but could hold off enforcement of its own ordinance while the recent AirBnb lawsuit is pending.

Read more NorthEndWaterfront.com coverage by searching the tag short term rentals.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. AirBnB is trying to claim its 1st Amendment rights are being violated. This is an obvious stalling tactic. I Wonder what would happen if the their law office was flooded with complaint letters? Might not change the circumstanes of these nuisance lawsuits, but the bill back hours sifting through the mail might make it expensive. By the way, the lawyers are Told & Weld , One Federal, suite 27.

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