Boston’s ban on Airbnb investment units eases housing shortage

Sheila Dillon, Boston’s chief housing officer and director of neighborhood development, said she expects a flood of apartments to hit the market in December when the city bans the use of residential units. ‘investors like short-term rentals will come into effect.

“We’re hoping the units coming back to market will number in the thousands,” Dillon said. Recount the Boston Herald this week.

Last year, Boston banned the use of investor units for short-term rentals through Airbnb and other websites. In November 2018, Airbnb sued Boston in federal court over what it called “draconian” regulations. The company settled the lawsuit in August by agreeing to add a feature to its website that requires hosts to enter a city-issued registration number beginning September 1. Hosts who do not provide the number by December 1 will be blocked.

Dillon said an earlier estimate from Airbnb put the number of investor units — measured as units rented out for most of the year, implying owners don’t live there — at around 3. 000. That’s about half of their slates for the city, the Boston Herald said.

Earlier this year Zillow cited Boston as one of the American cities where the housing shortage has reached a critical level. The housing shortage has been one of the factors pushing rents and home sales prices to levels that are more than double national averages.

“We hope that more units coming on the market will increase the vacancy rate and that units will continue to moderate,” Dillon told the Herald this week. “If we are building additional housing to influence the rental cost, we need the units that have been built to be residential units built to serve full-time residents.”

The average rent in Boston was $3,505 in September, more than double the national average, according to RentCafe. About half of the city’s housing is rental housing and the other half is owner-occupied.

The median sale the price from a Boston home was $650,400 in August, according to Zillow. That compares to a US median price of $237,000.

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