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City and Airbnb Settle Suit on Regulations for Registry; Affirms Owner Occupancy Rule

Under a settlement agreement reached between Airbnb and the City of Boston this week, Airbnb will facilitate the City’s short-term rental registration system and remove listings for illegal short-term rentals from its website.

The settlement affirms Boston’s ban on short-term rentals from non-owner occupied buildings, eliminating investor units and absentee Airbnb landlords. Owner-occupants may continue to list their own unit, a part of their unit or an adjacent whole unit in their building as a short-term rental.

Starting September 1, 2019, Airbnb’s website will add a function to allow hosts to enter and display their required City-formatted registration number. By December 1, 2019, all listings will be required to display a City-formatted registration number, or the listings will be removed. Airbnb will also share key data with the City, including the listing’s unique ID/URL, submitted registration number, unique host ID, listing information, and listing zip code.

Boston’s downtown neighborhoods, such the North End and Chinatown, have some of the largest density of short-term rentals in the country. Housing advocates hope the new city ordinance will return most of those apartments back to the long-term lease and rental market for residents.

Also under this agreement, the City of Boston will have the power to notify Airbnb of any listing the City believes is ineligible under Boston’s short-term rental ordinance. Unless the host complies with Boston’s short-term rental registration process in thirty days, Airbnb will remove the listing.

Mayor Walsh was pleased with the agreement reached saying, “My goal in regulating short-term rentals has always been to responsibly incorporate the growth of the home-share industry into our work to create affordable housing for all by striking a fair balance between preserving housing and allowing Bostonians to benefit from this new industry.”

The three-tiered approach to classifying permitted short-term rental units in Boston is as follows:

  1. Limited Share Unit: consists of a private bedroom or shared space in the owner-operator’s primary residence, in which the operator is present during the rental. The fee associated with this classification is $25 per year.
  2. Home Share Unit: consists of a whole unit available for a short-term rental at the primary residence of the owner-operator (unit in which operator resides for at least nine months out of a 12 month period). The fee associated with this classification is $200 per year.
  3. Owner-Adjacent Unit: consists of an owner-occupied two- or three-family building, in which the owner lists a single secondary unit as a short-term rental. The fee associated with this classification is $200 per year.

Further regulation protects occupants housed in short-term rental units by prohibiting any property with outstanding housing, sanitary, building, fire or zoning code violations from being listed. The operator of these units would be required to provide notice to abutters of a short-term rental unit within 30 days of approved registration. Regulations require the unit to register with the City of Boston yearly in order to verify compliance, as well as pay an annual license fee.

Penalties will be incurred on any individual offering ineligible units as a short-term rental unit, who fails to register their eligible unit before offering the unit as a short-term rental, or fails to comply with the notice of violation.

Under the conditions of the agreement, if a unit doesn’t qualify as a short-term rental, the owner of the unit could opt instead for listing the unit as a long-term rental or a rental stay of 28 consecutive days or longer.

Contentions between the City and Airbnb have been abundant and particularly impactful to the North End and downtown Boston. Read more NorthEndWaterfront.com coverage on short-term rentals by searching the tag: short term rentals.

Also, read more about short-term rental units on the City’s website.

9 Replies to “City and Airbnb Settle Suit on Regulations for Registry; Affirms Owner Occupancy Rule

  1. Yay! Awesome! Fantastic!!! When do the entire buildings managed by Domio, have to cease rentals? When do I get my block back? Lots of properties in the North End are about to be up for sale if this is enforced. Thank God!!!!

    1. The guy from Domio told me they ARE NOT GETTING out. And that $$$ talks. Call Lydia Edward’s office .

  2. Congratulations to all who were involved in this successful outcome. Special congratulations to our State Representative, Aaron Michlewitz, who recognized the short-term rental problem as it was occurring, began the process of addressing it in the Legislature, and drafted and secured passage of the legislation that provided the protections that have now been secured.

  3. Protection of a neighborhood- so the North End and other areas are not just facades of residential buildings but actually have Boston residents who contribute to our civic life. Tourists are great. In hotels or on a friend’s couch. Not depriving residents of housing.

  4. Let’s start a list of properties:

    3 North Hudson Street is an entire building managed by Domio. Been a terrible neighbor with trash and unruly guests.

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