Airbnb Lawsuit Against Boston Resolved

Posted by Marco Sandonato | Oct 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you are someone who has a property that you have listed on the popular Airbnb website to make a little extra income, you might remember that last fall, Airbnb sued the city of Boston over its new short-term rental laws. Airbnb had objected to sharing its information about Bostonian hosts with the city, and it also complained that by forcing the company to monitor and report hosts who weren't complying with the regulation to the city, it would place an “undue burden” on the company.

At the end of August 2019, however, Airbnb and the city of Boston settled the lawsuit, and starting September 1, some big new changes went into effect.

Owner-Occupied Units

The biggest aspect of Boston's new short-term rental laws is that it bans investors or absentee landlords from being able to buy a property (such as a small apartment building) and turning all the units into short-term rentals. Only owners of individual units or landlords who have a secondary unit in a building can list the unit as a short-term rental. And finally, the new city regulation requires that the landlord either lives in the unit or in a secondary unit in the building for at least nine months of the year.

The city of Boston had decided to ban investor-owned short-term rentals in an effort to free up available housing in a time when real estate costs are skyrocketing.

Registering Your Unit with the City

If you are not an investment company or absentee landlord and you have a unit that complies with the city's new regulations, you have until December 1, 2019, to register your property as a short-term rental. Once you do, you will receive a city registration number, which will then be a required field to fill in on the Airbnb platform when you list your property.

After December 1, Airbnb will go through its Boston listings and those that do not have the city registration number will be removed from its website. Airbnb will share its data on each listing with the city—including the address, zip code, type of rental unit, and Airbnb host ID of each unit, and likewise, the city will tell Airbnb about illegal listings so they can be removed from the Airbnb website.

Outcome for Boston

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued a statement after the agreement between the city and Airbnb had been reached,

I'm pleased we were able to reach a settlement with Airbnb, and continue our important work ensuring that Boston remains a home for all residents.

Walsh also commended both sides for working together to find

a balance between preserving housing stock in the city while allowing residents to benefit from the growing short-term rental industry.

Sandonato Law: Short-Term Rental Experts

For a complete understanding of Boston's short-term rental laws, you can visit our page on the subject. If you still have questions about registering your unit with the city and listing it on Airbnb, contact Sandonato Law today at 617-481-2742 or by filling out a contact form.

About the Author

Marco Sandonato

Marco Sandonato a native of Massachusetts, focuses his practice on all aspects of Massachusetts landlord tenant law, business law, and real estate law.   Marco was admitted to the practice of law in Massachusetts in 2008. Marco received his Juris Doctor from New England School of Law while simul...


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