Airbnb is angling to get ahead of moves to regulation its business after Boston lawmakers dropped a plan to tax the short-term rental industry during the last legislative session.
The San Francisco-based company, which boasts more than 10,000 hosts across the state and 2,000 in Boston, is working with legislators in both houses to develop a plan that will satisfy communities and let the company continue doing business.
Last week it launched a new TV ad in the Boston market that makes clear Airbnb’s desire to collect and pay hotel, tourist and occupancy taxes at the state and local levels.
“Here at Airbnb, we’re committed to working with the commonwealth to develop new common-sense home sharing rules,” the narrator of the Airbnb ad says. “We’re working with policymakers to ensure our community can pay their fair share of taxes and we support rules that protect affordable housing and maintain our neighborhoods.”
The latest ad is at least the second in an Airbnb charm offensive aimed at getting out in front of an issue that has caused friction between short-term rental services like Airbnb and VRBO and the hotel industry.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters last month that he has asked Boston Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, who filed legislation concerning the short-term rental market last year, to draft a summary of the “major issues” associated with the industry, a signal that the issue will likely be the focus of lawmakers’ attention next year.
Representatives from Airbnb have been meeting with leaders from both branches of the legislature and other lawmakers as they gear up for formal sessions to resume in January.
“It’s important to get out in front of folks, saying who you are, listen to what their questions or concerns are and let them know that you want to be a good actor and a fair actor in trying to come up with a solution that’s a win-win,” William Burns, a former member of the Illinois House and Chicago City Council who now serves as senior public policy adviser to Airbnb, told the News Service last month.