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Walsh proposes regulations for short-term rentals like Airbnb

The guidelines require those who operate a short-term rental to register with the city and pay a yearly license fee.
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Mayor Marty Walsh wants to rein in short-term rentals like Airbnb in an attempt to ease the strain on Boston’s housing market.

Walsh filed an ordinance on Monday with guidelines to help prevent the “monopolizing [of] Boston's housing market with short-term rentals,” according to the mayor’s office.

The ordinance breaks down short-term rentals into three types: limited share units (a private bedroom or shared space within someone’s home), home share units (someone’s entire primary residence as a short-term rental) and investor units, which are units that no one lives in when there’s not a short-term renter.

Operators of these units will need to register with the city and pay an annual license fee. Those who rent out investor units will face the highest fees — $500 per year — while opperators of home share units will face a $100 annual fee, and those of limited share units face a $25 yearly fee.

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Those who rent out their whole homes, either as investor units or home share units, would be limited to booking only 90 nights per year. 

The city will also not allow any property with outstanding housing, sanitary, building, fire or zoning-code violations to be listed as a short-term rental.

"Preserving Boston's affordability is key to keeping our communities stable and ensuring every person and family who wants to live here can afford to do so," Walsh said in a statement. "This ordinance is an important step towards our goal of reducing housing costs by creating disincentives to taking units off the market for use as short-term rentals.”

But all short-term rentals aren’t bad. They provide another income source for Bostonians and more options for visitors, Walsh acknowledged. These regulations, he said, will allow for short-term rentals "in scenarios that are non-disruptive to our neighborhoods and support our tourism industry."

Still, more Airbnb listings available lead to a nearly .5 percent increase in a city’s rent prices, according to multiple studies, and potentially reduces the number of long-term housing available to residents.

The ordinance, which still needs approval from the City Council, could make available more than 2,000 units for long-term rentals, the city said. 

 
 
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