Airbnb Reaches Deal With Boston

The city of Boston and short-term rental firm Airbnb have reached a deal on regulating rental properties in the city. The new short-term rental regulations that have been agreed to are designed to let the home-sharing industry grow, while preventing it from monopolizing Boston’s housing market. Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement that one of his top priorities is to create and preserve affordable housing for all Boston residents.

In Dec. 2018, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill to tax and regulate short-term rentals. Those regulations came into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, but were temporarily blocked in May after Airbnb challenged two provisions of the law. A federal judge did rule that the city could impose a fine of $300 per day if a company like Airbnb collects fees on rental units considered ineligible under the new rules.

Under the new agreement, Airbnb will adopt Boston’s short-term rental registration system and inform users of the city’s short-term rental standards. Airbnb will work to ensure the listings are registered and remove listings for illegal short-term rentals from its website. Airbnb will also share data with the city, including the listing’s unique URL, registration number, host ID, listing information, and listing zip code.

Boston will continue requiring owners to register their units, and regulating which units are eligible to be used as short-term rentals. City regulations prohibit any property with outstanding housing, sanitary, building, fire or zoning code violations from being listed. The regulations also bar non-owner occupants from running short-term rentals in leased units.

There are three tiers of rentals under the new rules. A “limited share” unit, for private bedrooms or shared spaces in the owner’s primary home, will be licensed at $25 per year. A “home share” unit, for an entire house or apartment at the owner’s main home, can be registered at $200 per year. An “owner-adjacent” unit, for owners that have two or three families in the building and the owner lists a single secondary unit as a short-term rental, also has an annual cost of $200.