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City Council Discusses Short-Term Rental Compliance

The Boston City Council wants to make sure short-term rental units are following the new rules. 

At a hearing Thursday afternoon at City Hall, the council met to make sure AirBnb is complying with the new regulations. Those who choose to list their homes on AirBnb must register their units with the city and follow the new city ordinance to be able to operate legally.

There are 81 short-term rentals listed in the North End on January 22, 2015. (AirBnb website)

Boston City Council passed a city-wide ordinance surrounding AirBnbs back in June 2018 that was later signed by Mayor Walsh to go into effect on January 1, 2019. In August 2019, a settlement was reached between AirBnB and the City of Boston stating that Airbnb will facilitate the City’s short-term rental registration system and remove listings for illegal short-term rentals from its website.

The settlement also affirmed 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.

However, just because there are new rules in place does not mean people are following them. 

“There are recent reports from my constituents that unregistered ineligible units are still operating,” said Councilor Ed Flynn.

City councilor Kim Janey said she heard the same thing. “What I am hearing from folks in my district is that people are finding ways around this,” Janey said.

Janey heard that many of these AirBnB owners are now trying to turn their properties into bed and breakfasts.

The deadline to register with the city is looming with a December 1 deadline. According to city officials, Boston has received a little over 15,00 applications to become short-term rentals. Only half of them have been approved. They have issued 378 fines in 190 properties.

Some residents disagree with the new rules and regulations.

“I just feel like you totally missed the mark and hurt a lot of people who don’t have a lot of money, that don’t have a lot of opportunities all because you guys get a few calls about trash that usually isn’t even about the guests who are staying with us,” said Paige Johnson, the owner of a short-term rental company.

Some councilors agreed with the disgruntled residents saying the council went too strict with the new regulations.

“Homeowners should be able to do what they want to do with their property,” said City Councilor Frank Baker.

Baker also believes there should be a category for small operators so they don’t have to meet the same requirements as large short-term rental companies.

“I just think we were a little heavy handed,” he added.

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4 Replies to “City Council Discusses Short-Term Rental Compliance

  1. OK, then some illegal short-terms are refusing to pay. What’s the next step? Can the put liens on said properties?

  2. Once again, extreme action taken without considering the repercussions or the effect on our economy.
    There are many categories of short term rentals, and for more than 40 years, furnished rentals have been a reliable and cost effective alternative to the pricey hotels in Boston for people who come here for medical treatment, consult to businesses here, visit college students, among many others. Too much government squashing and taxing!

    1. The economy is absolutely booming, especially in the North End. The empty storefronts could be easily filled if the landlords would agree to something other than the absolute top of the market.

      I highly doubt putting restrictions on short term rentals is going to effect the North End’s economy.

    2. The repercussions would be to return short term apartments to the long term rental market and expand supply keeping costs in check. Boston is not the only city taking these actions and neither was it the first. The new regulations are mainly aimed at investors who have swooped into the neighborhood. They operate theses as tax free investment motel properties. The same regulations don’t apply to owner occupied buildings. Investors have no stake in the neighborhood or it’s cost or quality of life. It’s an investment property, a speculation.

      The rule is in place and some investors are already placing their places for sale. However, others seem to be trying to avoid compliance. The question now is, how much penalty. This should have been considered earlier, as you could guess that some would try to beat the system.

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