Debate Over Airbnb Regulations in Boston
By Cho Yin Rachel Lo 2/17/2018
Airbnb hosts flooded a hearing in the Boston City Council on Tuesday and expressed their concerns regarding regulations that may be implemented in the short-term rentals industry.
Airbnb is an online company that allows people to rent and lease short-term living spaces. The city council is considering new rules that could affect hundreds of local Airbnb hosts. Mayor Marty Walsh, the man behind the proposal, aims to prevent units from being put on the market for short-term rentals by investors. This can drive up long-term rental prices because unit spaces are taken up by Airbnb rentals.
Walsh suggested a set of regulations still to be debated. Last month, he proposed to let hosts who rent out a spare room in their homes to continue doing so but put a regulation on investor-owned units that rent out more than one spare room for 90 nights a year. The Mayor’s proposed rules have been in the making for two years, but there has been no agreement.
Walsh’s housing chief Sheila Dillon states, “We cannot win the war on our housing shortage in Boston if housing units are being taken off the market and used as short-term rentals.” By putting regulations on investors, there would be more units freed up for long-term rental, which could relieve the shortage of affordable housing. Airbnb hosts, however, are concerned. They would no longer be able to rent out their rooms for more than 90 days, leaving rooms empty for months. Some are worried that those in that situation may not be able to afford that.
There is discussion over whether the reforms would affect the market too much. According to City Councilor Frank Baker, he would have to rethink these rules because, as he put it, “Some people just use this to make extra money.”