Airbnb settles lawsuit with Boston over data sharing and illegal listings

The City of Boston and Airbnb have reached an agreement on a city order which forces short-term rental companies to share data and crack down on illegal listings.

Airbnb sued Boston in federal court last fall for what it called “draconian” regulations. The company objected to the requirement to share data with the city and argued that hosts are responsible for their own listings. Airbnb also claimed that city bylaws would require it to monitor and remove listings, which would place a burden on the company.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will add a feature to its website that will require guests to enter their city-issued registration number starting September 1. Hosts who do not register with the city by December 1 will have their listings removed. Registration is required by the ordinance.

The city will now have the power to notify Aibnb of illegal listings and have them removed from the company’s website.

Airbnb will also now share listing data with the city, including zip code, registration number, URL, rental unit type, and Airbnb host ID.

By city rules, hosts must actually live in any residence they rent out on a short-term basis. So-called “investor shares” are prohibited.

In a statement, Mayor Marty Walsh said his goal was to strike a balance between preserving housing stock in the city while allowing residents to benefit from the growth of the short-term rental industry.

“I am thrilled that we were able to reach a settlement with Airbnb and that we are continuing our important work in ensuring that Boston remains a home for all residents,” Walsh said.

In a statement, an Airbnb spokesperson said the company’s goal is to create a pathway for Boston’s short-term rental industry.

“With this settlement agreement, that is what we have achieved collectively, establishing an effective regulatory framework for compliance,” the spokesperson said.

The settlement comes more than a year after the city first passed regulations on short-term rentals. the new rules came into force on January 1, but the provisions on data sharing and illegal listings had been stalled in court due to the lawsuit.

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