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Boston City Council Passes Tougher Short-Term Rental Regulations

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Boston Mayor Martin Walsh

The Boston City Council approved a plan Wednesday that will prohibit owner-investors from putting unoccupied residential units on Airbnb, but not all homeowners will have to abide by the new rules.

The passed regulation is meant to rein in the rapidly growing short-term rental industry and put more supply in Boston’s notoriously tight housing market. The city estimates banning owners from offering units they don’t live in as short-term rentals will free up 2,000 apartments for long-term leases. Homeowners of two-family homes and triple-decker residential buildings will continue to be allowed to put unoccupied units on websites like Airbnb. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh indicated he will sign the measure into law, the Boston Globe reports

The new rules will be enacted at the beginning of next year, but existing short-term rental hosts can operate under the old system through August 2019. The new system will require short-term rental hosts to register with the city and pay a $200 annual fee. It remains unclear how the new law will be enforced. 

Airbnb, which had a contentious war of words with the Boston City Council during the consideration process of the new regulations, continues to argue the measure strips its hosts of a viable ability to make extra income. 

“Today's disappointing vote is proof that our community’s feedback and concerns were not heard,” Airbnb spokesperson Crystal Davis said in a prepared statement to Bisnow. “The new ordinance unfortunately creates a system that violates the privacy of our hosts, and prevents Boston families from making much-needed extra income in one of the country’s most expensive cities. We’re hopeful there will be an ongoing discussion on these topics so that our community can continue to fight for their ability to share their homes and make ends meet."