Walsh proposes restrictions, fees on Airbnb operators in Boston

Mayor Walsh is formally asking the City Council to approve home-share regulations that would limit how often somebody could rent out their apartment or condo and which would require anybody listing their homes or rooms for rentals to pay a fee that would help the city regulate the burgeoning market.

Walsh, taking up the fight once fought by now former City Councilor Sal LaMattina, says the move will help free up apartments for people who actually want to live in tourist-heavy areas such as the North End.

The new regulations put forth in the ordinance aim to capture the growth of Boston's growing home-share industry, while including deterrents to help prevent operators from monopolizing Boston's housing market with short-term rentals. In addition, the regulations provide a standardized framework for regulating these units that both meet the evolving needs of the industry, provide protections for occupants and minimize the impact on surrounding neighbors of these units. ...

Data shows that the availability of short-term rental units has a direct correlation to housing costs. A 2016 study by UMass Boston found a 0.4% increase in rent prices due to increases in AirBNB listings, and a nationwide UCLA student also found a 0.42% increase.

In addition to rent increases, the commercialization of short-term rentals in residential dwellings and residential neighborhoods has the potential to reduce availability of long-term housing for owners and tenants alike, and is contrary to the Administration's goal of adding 53,000 units of housing across a variety of income levels by 2030.

Walsh's proposal, details of which will go to the City Council this week, would create three classes of home-share rentals in Boston: Rooms for rent while the owner is still around, who would have to pay $25 a year; Entire apartments, condos or homes that are rented out by their owners who still mostly live there and who would have to pay $100 a year; and units bought by investors, who would have to pay $500 a year per unit.

To assist with the enforcement of regulations, booking platforms will be required to provide the City with monthly data and information relative to the short-term rental listings that detail the location and occupancy numbers.

The City Council, which meets Wednesday, will assign the proposed regulations to a committee for hearings and study before voting on it.



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Is this really Walsh?

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This is the first sensible thing he's suggested

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would be assessing theses properties as commercial entities. The City would make more money and that's all this is. It has nothing to do with people who can't live in this city anymore.

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It seems like this is a good

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It seems like this is a good start towards doing that - especially the data gathering, and having a registry of who's using their unit for how many days and how often. People who let out their apartment a few times a year while they're on vacation are a lot different from people who own property to do this full time (the latter of which should absolutely be assessed commercially). But without the data, it's hard to move towards separating the two and doing so.

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Sounds like an enforcement nightmare

These are basically hotel beds. They should be treated as such.

Why create a whole new category?

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Agreed - also not enough

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Agreed. Also don't think it goes far enough. Basically the city isn't actually doing anything but collecting a miniscule fee. I don't see any limits on how many nights or which units can be rented.

This is just a new tax, doesn't actually prevent anyone from buying up apartments or housing stock and renting them out like hotels. Nope, now they just have a pay a ridiculously small fee. $25 to rent a room for a year? They make multiples of that with 1 booking.

Edit: This didn't mention the 90-day limit. But as Stevil said, it will be impossible to police. Not to mention it only applies to whole units. So theoretically I could rent my 3-bed as a whole unit for 90-days and then as 3 separate bedrooms for the rest of the year for a $175 fee.

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90 day limit

> Edit: This didn't mention the 90-day limit. But as Stevil said, it will be impossible to police.

So wouldn't it be possible to police because AirBNB would be required to removed listing for places that have already be rented out for 90 days? Wouldn't that be part of the agreement with the city? Or at least should be part of the agreement. Or are you thinking that people would just list with multiple services to avoid this? 90 days with AirBNB and then 90 days with Couch Surfing, etc.
A reasonable amount of data collection by the city could make this easy to prevent also.

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Onus of enforcement

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The city will definitely try to force AirBNB to police this themselves as other cities like Paris and London have done, and then fine them if/when they are caught allowing it to happen.

I just think investors and owners will be smart about finding loopholes in this, as your said renting through different services, or renting in slightly different categories.

Sure this could be policed by the city as well, it just seems expensive and time-consuming to try to formulate a database for every unit or even bed rented out in the city between different services or rented in different ways..i.e. renting a whole 1-bed unit v. renting out 'just the bed'

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Pissed off neighbors

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I think people on my street would be pretty happy to enforce this. On our street, there is a triple decker that is all Air B-n-B because the condo owners have left for the 'burbs and are using the units for income.
The neighbors are plenty pissed about the huge groups that rent those 2 and 3 bedroom units and park on the sidewalk, party, don't clear snow etc.
Let neighbors report on 311.
I don't feel that same way about neighbors who are still living here and actually act as hosts to their Air B-n-B visitors and have not taken a family sized unit off the market for this.

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Well, at least they act like Bostonians

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the huge groups that rent those 2 and 3 bedroom units and park on the sidewalk, party, don't clear snow etc.

At least they're trying to fit in with city-dwelling millennials!

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I have some concerns

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I have some concerns

What is short term housing? Is it anything under 12 months? If so what about happens with all the students in Boston who do 9 months at a time and sublease for the summer? Are they all going to have to register? What about airline people and their crash pads? Heck we are supposed to be a pro immigrant city but I wonder if anyone has considered how many immigrants cross through Boston housing in route to other places or other parts of Boston for less than a year.

Will this only be limited to technology or will it also include word of mouth rentals?

How will they be enforcing this across multiple platforms? Who exactly is counting the 90 days? Can I no longer sublet the remainder of my lease if it is more than 90 days?

I get what they are trying to do but I am also concerned that the city may not fully comprehend the intricacies of the housing market when it comes to people who are not middle class in stable jobs.

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Yeah, about that enforcement

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Boston already requires people renting out housing to register with the city and have their property inspected and added to the city rental housing list. Pretty much no landlords do this. A colleague tried to report their landlord for this to start the ball rolling regarding a bunch of other illegal things the landlord was doing, and the city said they don't even have a way to take reports on unregistered/uninspected rental housing. So I'm not placing a lot of faith in this policy actually changing anything.

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Let's not forget that Walsh bent over for Uber despite their record of horror. So now he's trying to shake down some more of dose Silicon Valley eggheads.

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Walsh bent over for Uber

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Walsh bent over for Uber despite their record of horror.

Yeah, like that time Uber cooked babies and ate them.

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I'd argue

That medallion cabs bent themselves over. They were done the moment the East Boston councillor told a story about how he was refused a ride by a medallion cab.

Pro tip: If you manage to luck/bribe your way into being handed a monopoly by the state, try not to refuse rides to the people who make the laws. Morons.

A shame, in this case, that the hotels that Airbnb operators compete against aren't nearly as heinous as cabbies. Well, maybe the Hyatt, with that garbage stunt to lay off the maids a few years ago.

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Why do you bother?

Your insights on the livery business are as idiotic as most of your posts. The cabbies had a monopoly they thought would never end, hence the decline in service and the vacuum filled by Travis and his VC scumbags.

So stick that nonsense about the city Councillor ending the cab business up your ass if your head isn't taking up all the room.

And tell me, spend a lot of time staying at the Mandarin Oriental, The Four Seasons or The W? I ask because you, once again, portray yourself as someone who has sampled the many forms of hospitality in this town and not some rube from Vermont.

And any time you want to accompany me over to the taxi pool at Logan or the line at South Station and tell the guys who bust their ass for a 12 hour shift to make a dime in a business that's dying that you think they're "heinous". See where it gets your country ass.

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As Dave O'Brien says when somebody strikes out

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night.

Good morning: Do you think that I actually believe a single Boston councillor ended the heyday of medallion cabs in Boston? That was a turning point which stuck out to me. Go look up "poetic license."

Good afternoon: Why the (expletive) would I know anything about staying in Boston hotels? I live here, and on my visits before I moved here, I couch surfed or stayed at the Brighton Days Inn.

Good night: I've heard enough bad cab anecdotes, but I also acknowledge that those are but a sliver of a sliver of cab experiences. Your peers at the airport are innocent until proven guilty in the court of Will.

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OK...I'll play...

Do you think that I actually believe a single Boston councillor ended the heyday of medallion cabs in Boston?


They were done the moment the East Boston councillor told a story about how he was refused a ride by a medallion cab.

Why the (expletive) would I know anything about staying in Boston hotels?

But Boston hotels are heinous....?

that the hotels that Airbnb operators compete against aren't nearly as heinous as cabbies

Good thing the court of Will exists only in your pea brain as any first year law student could turn your own stupid words against you on appeal.

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Taxes for Airbnb?

Maybe this will end up like liquor licenses, where people who are paying for the privilege of being in business do what they can to protect their investment and discourage other homes from being built.

It's almost as if government should stay the (expletive) out of it in the first place. I've used Airbnb twice. I consented to paying money to somebody to sleep in their house, and the homeowner/tenant consented to taking it. End of discussion.

Even if I were a partier, the answer isn't "tax the owner," it's "arrest me for being loud." Americans have become allergic to accountability.

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The "liquor license" example

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The "liquor license" example makes no sense alongside the anti-tax statement.

If you wanted to do away with liquor regulations, and allow booze to be sold at Target and served at McDonalds, then why would you also have to make liquor tax-free? That doesn't make sense.

Around the world, real estate has different rates of taxation/valuation for residential and commercial property. In Boston, residential property is taxed at around 1% and commercial property at 2.5%. Commercial property is also worth more. Compare an AirBnb unit against a hotel room, and the hotel room is paying 3x to 4x more just in property tax. That's before even considering hotel tax.

This is what Walsh needs to find a way to fix. At very least, the year-round short-term rentals ought to be taxed at the commercial rate.

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Stay out of peoples pockets mayor. Microcosm of why a con man is president. Dems want a piece of everything !

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