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.
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.