Airbnb calling Boston customers to try to get them to record messages against the city council

Boston Magazine reports the apartment and condo rental company had workers calling up Boston residents who have used their service in other cities asking them to record messages about how Boston city councilors are un-American or something.

The city council and Mayor Walsh are both looking at potential regulations to try to minimize the impact of the company sucking up large numbers of apartments in some neighborhoods on the ability of Boston residents to stay in the city.

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Your listers are running a hotel

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A) no airbnb unless the property is properly zoned
B) tax them and regulate them like hotels, which is what they are

And the beef is not with air bnb which is basically a booking site. This is betweem the owners and the city.

We don't need a whole new and different set ofvrules.

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Wouldn’t the owner be

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Wouldn’t the owner be expected to pay taxes in the first place? Are you suggesting the city tax them on their taxes? Sounds about right for MA..

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Different taxes

Property taxes and hotel taxes. Sort of like how taxes on an empty lot are different from taxes on a factory on said lot.

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One exception

Owner occupied units - meaning that the service would have to be what Airbnb is claiming that it is to the city council.

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Bed and Breakfast, Inns, and AirBnB should all be treated same

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So like a BnB, where the owner buys a house with extra rooms and lives there, renting the others. Would owner occupied units be allowed unlimited rental nights per year, or could they operate the same many Bed and Breakfasts and pay hotel occupancy taxes and be subject to safety regulations. If not limited, then regualr Inns and Bed and Breakfasts where the owner lives should be treated the same.

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I'm OK with owner-occupied short-term room-letting

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I'm not OK with rules-breaking de facto hotel rooms helping to force people out of the area with ridiculous housing prices.

And I'm not OK with a lying and cheating company like AirBnb.

Fine AirBnb for all the hotel and zoning rules they've broken already. We could use the billion dollars.

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I think still the same

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If you stay at an actual owner occupied bnb you are still running a hotel. If you are charging money for short term stays, it's a hotel, even if the owner is sleeping in the next room.

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Nope

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Owner occupied Bed and Breakfast are exempt from many of the occupancy taxes hotels pay. MGL 64g:
“However, private owner-occupied houses where three or fewer rooms are rented, a breakfast is included in the rent and all accommodations are reserved in advance, are defined as a bed and breakfast home and are not subject to the room occupancy excise.“

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Cool

And insofar as a room advertised on Air BnB follows those guidelines, it should be treated in that tax category.

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Agreed

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Along with zoning condo rules etc.

My guess is though, that's a very small percent of the inventory.

Gotta side w Marty on this one - this has to be playing havoc w housing supply. Pricing pressures are on the margins and he cited a number of 2-3% of our housing stock is air bnb. That's probably 50-100% of our vacancy rate right now.

That said, hotels aren't cheap or plentiful either.

Build baby build! :-)

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There's another category besides 'hotel'

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The 'boarding house' or 'rooming hosue' is a sadly disused category of housing in MA that may be more appropriate to apply to larger AirB&B rental properties that are more than 4 units and not 'owner occupied.'

I'm not sure why this option isn't more popular in Boston to begin with - this type of single-occupancy, short-term housing could be really helpful to both younger and older people.

https://www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/lt1-chapter-15-rooming-houses.pdf

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Don't local laws discourage

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Don't local laws discourage rooming houses? As a landlord, I get reminded constantly to make sure my rental unit isn't a rooming house (some landlords end up renting individual rooms rather than a collective unit, legal or not). I see in the link there is a licensing requirement. Are there rooming houses out in Boston or the surrounding area anymore?

More rooming houses might help ease some of the housing issues. Having young adults constantly having to negotiate to get out of a lease because their life plans change compared to their roommates adds a level of work and cost to the system vs. being able to rent a room in a common unit.

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I am in my 30's , do not have

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I am in my 30's , do not have kids and am single. All I want is a place to sleep when I am not working and enough money in my pocket so I can go on vacation. I don't want to move every time a room mate thinks they fell in love. I can't afford a decent condo. I make decent money , all I want is a place to sleep.

I look at a rooming house situation and would totally buy into a safe, clean well organized version of that. Even if I had to share a bathroom, as long as I didn't have to clean it.

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The last phase of Ink Block

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The last phase of Ink Block will be pretty close to that. It's a co-living building:

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/property/2017/11/27/co-living-boston-sout...

"A high-end dormitory for adults may soon spring up in the South End."

"Last week, Newton-based National Development proposed a 14-story “co-living” building to complete the neighborhood’s Ink Block complex. Along with Ollie, a real estate company based in New York, National Development envisions 245 tiny units, where residents would dwell in small spaces but spend most of their time elsewhere, like in the building’s communal areas."

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This is sooo expected of Assachusetts!

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Several commentators on here have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. However, this is typical Assachusetts for you where Liberal's/Democrats are actually disguised Conservatives.

I hate to say this but all of you who are for Airbnb regulations are against the growth of this city which is why it's actually really just a fast pace suburb!

Airbnb's do not drive up rents, demand does idiots!. If there were no demand then rents would remain relatively on par with national trends and owners would resist the temptation of offering short-term rentals. I am the owner of two multi-family homes and I DO NOT and don't see the upside in renting out a unit as an Airbnb. I actually prefer to have a family/long-term renter in the unit as I feel it provides more stability to my neighborhood/community. However, just like landlords who rent out their units to Airbnb, I receive a 1099 as several of my tenants utilize section 8 voucher's. The income we receive is documented and recorded at the IRS thus making it extremely hard for us to lie about our income. On the flip-side, do you know how many landlords in the City of Boston who receive cash payments, checks, money-orders etc. lie about their actual income? A huge percentage!

So, in all actuality, landlords who rent out their units to Airbnb are paying their fair share of taxes as their rental income can not be disguised or hidden. There is no just reason to charge them more taxes. Half of the individuals on this forum are only complaining because instead of buying that two-family in that used to be undesirable neighborhood you instead purchased a one-family and you don't generate any revenue. Boy that was stupid!

This is the honest truth, Boston rents are only going to increase and it's not because of people renting out their units to Airbnb. It's due to the Puritan/Conservative culture which has always existed here in Assachusetts. For decades Boston refused to build up or out thus creating this housing crunch and now the City is a rich unseasoned town. However, minorities who actually have suffered the most over these disparities saw it coming. Especially when they pulled all of the liquor licenses from black neighborhoods. It's a god damn shame when there is not ONE FULL liquor license in a black neighborhood.

Quit crying about Airbnb's!!!!

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Renters

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I've already been kicked out of 2 apartments in East Boston because my landlords turned their entire 3 family apartment buildings into Air BnB. So how is that fair to people who work hard and want to live in the city? Is that making the city grow? No it's forcing people out.

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How much were you paid for this lovely screed?

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AirBnB is an organization that can't seem to be bothered to clean up its messes. Whether you own a condo where someone is breaking the condo agreement and renting out to a rotating cast of characters or are taken in by scammers using the "reservation service", the entire set up is predicated on avoiding responsibility.

You are the only ass here - face up to the realities of the problems caused or move to new hampshire where people might be bothered to listen to your nonsense tripe. In any case, leave the regulations and discussion to the adults.

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Unless you own property, your

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Unless you own property, your the ass here. Speaking of something you have no knowledge of. Oh wait, now you want to tell us you're a landlord now? Joke!

You know what you are, your're the rent who's crying to the government in order to slow down the price of housing. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE PRICES PUNK, then you need to move your ass to New Hampshire where it's cheap! If you can't survive in this state like the rest of us then move your whiny ass out! I pay WAY more taxes then you do buddy!

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Um, no

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I own a multifamily property that I live in. I have had "tenants" - one who had been there for several years - start AirBNB listing the property that they supposedly lived in.

You are looking forward to some hard lessons if you don't smarten up and listen up and pay attention to what is going on here. You will have sooooo much fun trying to evict someone who pays the rent on time who is making $$$ renting out YOUR property and causing your insurance to skyrocket and causing damage to the property.

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Wow, just wow

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You probably don't pay more than me though.

So does that give me the special right to tell you what a pompous jerk you are?

And I'm trying to slow down the rise on housing costs too. Perhaps not the best for me, but like most of the posters here we care about the long term fiscal health of our community. It's not all about me, me, me...

Although it is apparently all about you you you!

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It's due to the Puritan

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It's due to the Puritan/Conservative culture which has always existed here in Assachusetts.

Buddy, I don't know where you've been for the past 400 years, but it's 2018, not 1618. Do you follow Boston politics at all?

If you don't think the airbnb's and vrbo's of the world have assisted the insane real estate spike in smaller cities like Boston, you're completely blind. "Landlords" have been gobbling up inventory above market price, because they know they can still make a killing renting with airbnb.

Also, this airbnb issue isn't just happening in Boston. Do some research, and you'll find that cities across the world are passing regulation to deal with the issue. I'm all for the service, and think it's a great way for homeowners to generate a side income, but the real homeowners aren't the issue here – the non-resident landlords are.

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See, you don't even make

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See, you don't even make sense, "Landlords have been gobbling up inventory above market price, because they know they can still make a killing renting with airbnb".

First, you sound extremely pissed because you're one of many who still rent in Boston. This is no ones fault!!!! Landlords such as myself, bought in undesirable neighborhoods when the rest of the Assachusetts suckers felt either unsafe, scared or just didn't want to live around certain ethnic backgrounds , if were being truthful. Landlords like me essentially did the same thing the gays did in the South End back in the early 70's & 80's when no one wanted to buy those brownstones. Now, those are worth millions of dollars and those rents are through the roof! Are you going to blame that on Airbnb as well? Exactly! Boston rents have been high for years and will continue to grow. What people like you are mad about is the fact that the rental prices are being increased in other area's outside of downtown proper i.e. back bay, south end etc.

Individuals like you, want to consistently regulate everything because it effects you negatively. What if I said, people who drive while listening to music are distracted and it negatively impacts other drivers? Does this now mean that I should petition the city to regulate your music volume levels while you drive?

You made no clear or concise argument on why regulation is needed. You just typed your emotions on a computer. I hit you with clear facts about tax payments and how our income is documented thus forcing us to be honest and pay our fair share of taxes. I also stated that as an owner of two multi-family properties, I DO NOT utilize Airbnb and only rent to families. However, you have yet to say anything that refutes my statement of landlords who accept cash, checks, money orders etc. not documenting their actual income. Which happens all the time.

As a landlord, and I speak for several of us, the ones who actually create the increase in rental prices are College Students!!!! Take a look at Brighton, Allston, Back Bay, North End, South Boston, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill. It's been documented. Those same college students are now moving to Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park etc. As an example, a unit that I have which became vacant because a long-term renter who bought a home, I had an applicant from an undergraduate who wanted to move into a three bedroom with two roommates. Where this apartment is located, I could have easily charged $3500 a month for this unit. Do you know how much I was charging the family prior who moved and bought a home? $1650 for 5 years. Do you know how much I am charging the new family of 4 who lives their now $1850!

So shut up! Unless you own rental property in the City of Boston, you don't know what you're talking about. I don't dislike Airbnb because of the supposed cause of rental increase, I don't like Airbnb because it doesn't create a sense of community. However this is my property and my choice and just because I don't like it doesn't mean other landlords should have to be regulated. Hell, I don't like the fact that rents have gone up in Mission Hill and students from Northeastern, Wentworth etc, move in those unites for 9-12 months and then leave when those units could go to families. But are we now going to tell a landlord they can not rent to college students because they drive up our rents and decrease our sense of community?

Exactly! If you don't like it, move or buy a home.

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wow.

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your two comments are among the dumbest things I've ever heard.

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Yikes, guess I hit a nerve!

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Yikes, guess I hit a nerve! TL/DR (That means too long, didn't read – as I'm assuming you're an out-of-touch 50 or 60-something).

I'll leave you with this... I no longer live in Boston, but when I left in 2012, my rent went from $1,795 for a 1-bed garden level in the Back Bay to $2,695 if I wanted to renew my lease. This kind of hike, generally, was the case for every rental in the city proper. And that, my friend, is what you call insane.

I personally lived it, so stop acting like a pompous, know-it-all jerk. I guess owning a couple Roxbury multi-families means that ONLY YOU are capable of understanding the Boston real estate market?

Since then (as I plan to move back one day) I've followed the real estate market and watched as home values in Boston proper have skyrocketed 40% over the last 6 years. I'm not solely blaming airbnb, but if you don't think short-term rentals have played a role in the spike in a tiny city with a massive tourism industry, I'm sorry, but you're just not looking very closely.

When I eventually invest $600k+ in a modest South End condo, I'd rather not be living next to a turnstile hotel room hosting guest after random nightly guest.

Instead, I'd like to have neighbors that I can eventually get to know. If that's what you consider "regulation" then there's not much we can agree on.

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You seem

really nice, and don't sound at all like an unhinged lunatic.

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These tactics are making me

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These tactics are making me want to never use airbnb to book a vacation again. Might as well start saving up those hotel points again.

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Airbnb has been great for me

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Airbnb has been great for me as a traveler. All these regulations and taxes make hotels expensive. Why does it need to be this way? In most cities, I can book a decent Airbnb apartment for around $100 a night, and a nice one for around $150 - a hotel would cost double that. It is not reasonable that people that want to visit this city have to pay $400 a night for a room.

Our housing prices cost so much not because of Airbnb, but because of too much regulation. If developers had a way to "cheat" the regulations for building like Airbnb does for lodging, we could have cheaper housing too.

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Regulations

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Like, working smoke detectors? Unblocked egress? Fire safety requirements?

Yeah. Have fun.

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Oh those pesky regulations,

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Oh those pesky regulations, lets just throw a bunch of strangers in a strange building and see what happens when it catches fire.

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Here's several ways

If my neighbors house caught fire, I know how many people and pets live there, for starters. That is very helpful for firefighters to know.

I have some idea about who might be home. I know that the people in a certain house or unit might need physical assistance evacuating.

In an apartment building situation, the people who live there know the layout and can help others escape through alternate exits.

When the house next door was pumping out a lot of acrid smoke through the chimney, I was able to call my neighbor and she shut down her rapidly failing heating system before it took the house with it. In other fires where alarm systems have failed, people have called each other to spread the alarm (such as when there were fires that started outside of large apartment buildings).

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Been good on both sides

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We own a place in Cambridge and got into listing on AirBnb when we lived abroad for nine months- not enough to rent it for a full year. Then we continued, listing high demand weekends (graduations, marathon, head of the Charles) and going away those weekends to go camping or to other cities. In three years we’ve made about $100k gross payments, and have done it by the books- insurance specifically for short term rentals, reported and paid taxes on all income, got inspected and certified under the new Cambridge system.
On the traveling side it’s been extremely helpful- we have too many kids to get a single hotel room so renting an apartment saves money, is easier logistically than having two hotel rooms, and saves money on food because we can cook. We used it all over Europe and only had one semi-bad rental where some utilities didn’t work properly.
All that said, I’m in favor of regulations, because they help people in our situation who aren’t pulling rentals off the market but are actually using it as advertised, making money while we’re not home. The only people it’s seriousky hurting in that case is the hotel industry, but they don’t really offer what people want if you want to stay in a home with a kitchen and communal space instead of small rooms.

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Yes, you can book a decent

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Yes, you can book a decent Airbnb for $100 a night. That means the landlord can get $3000 a month renting it on a short-term basis. Would a monthly tenant pay that much in rent? Not in many cities. And that's how Airbnb is contributing to evictions in cities all over the world - it's so much more profitable for landlords to rent out apartments on a per-night basis.

I travel often and certainly see the appeal for travelers, but I just don't want to contribute to increasing evictions and rising rents in the cities I visit. I'm only there for a few days--millions of people live there.

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It's not the Public Budgeted Steno Record yet.

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It's not the Public Budgeted Stenographic Record of Public Meetings of Boston City Council, a more accurate, more complete record than video captions for hard of hearing folks. It's the less accurate, less complete video captions, better than nothing anyway... scroll to the bottom at
https://www.boston.gov/public-notices/36706

Previous Public Meetings of Boston City Council video captions... scroll to the bottom of links including and previous to 25 April 2018 at
https://www.boston.gov/public-notices/archive?title=Meeting&field_contac...

boston. gov/public-notices/archive?title=Meeting&field_contact_target_id%5B%5D=441

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