Hearing slated for short term rental ordinance

Boston City Councillors Ed Flynn, Lydia Edwards and Michelle Wu will hold a hearing regarding implementation of the Short Term Rental (Airbnb) Ordinance on Thursday, November 14th at 1:00 p.m. in the Iannella Chamber at Boston City Hall. The hearing will be held by the Committee on Housing and Community Development, chaired by Councillor Edwards. The aim of the hearing is to discuss any potential issues or loopholes that may exist regarding enforcement of the ordinance and the removal of investor units or large corporations. Specifically, constituents have called attention to Primary Residence criteria used as proof of owner occupancy to register with the city, as well as attempts by large companies to convert units to executive suites.

Passed in June of 2018, the ordinance regulates short term rentals on platforms such as Airbnb. Only units that are owner-occupied are eligible for short term rentals. The ordinance would also require operators to register their units, apply for a license yearly, and notify the abutters. The ordinance took effect on January 1, 2019, while units with executed leases as of June 1, 2018 originally had until September 1, 2019 to comply. The City of Boston subsequently reached an important settlement with Airbnb that will allow critical enforcement provisions to move forward, including the removal of listings by units that are not registered with the City by December 1.

Concerned residents have highlighted unregistered units in operation, reportedly ineligible units that have registered with the city, as well as investor units attempting to convert to executive suites and continue operating. This hearing will seek to review the ordinance’s implementation and evidence required by the Inspectional Services Department, as well as addressing concerns about potential loopholes to ensure that investor-owned, short-term rental units are not displacing long-term residents residents.  

“The Short Term Rentals Ordinance and the removal of large corporations from this industry is critical for our city to protect its housing stock and address quality of life issues,” said Councillor Flynn in a statement. “Constituents throughout my district have stressed the importance of strict enforcement to guard against the negative impacts of non-owner occupied, short term rental investor units.”

“Boston’s Short Term Rentals ordinance protects our housing stock from speculative investments while allowing owner-occupants to earn supplemental income,” said Councillor Edwards. “As we implement the ordinance, the city must ensure corporate short term rental practices which violate the letter and the spirit of the law are put to a halt.”

“I’m grateful to continue working with Councillor Flynn, Councillor Edwards, and community advocates on taking steps to stabilize our neighborhoods,” said Councillor Wu. “Housing affordability is the top concern for residents across the city, and we must not only pass strong protections, but ensure that these rules are being enforced in every neighborhood.”