Short-term rental companies facing fines fight Boston law enforcement – Boston Herald

Short-term rental companies that have been hit with tens of thousands of dollars in fines by City Hall are battling a new law that threatens to bankrupt them in Boston – as the city threatens to impose ” heavy” additional sanctions against resistance fighters.

California-based Sonder, which owns, manages and lists properties nationwide, is responsible for 39 of the city’s 288 fines, according to city records. These cost $300 each, or $11,700 — all for properties the city says aren’t eligible to be used as short-term rentals under the law prohibiting absentee landlords from short-term rentals. .

Sonder’s properties are mostly around downtown, the South End and Fenway, including 103 Arch St. and 630 Washington St., which the city has fined six each.

A spokesperson for Sonder insisted the company should not be punished for continuing to operate its remaining properties as it seeks to register them as executive suites – a route the Herald reported in October as a new trend, opposed by city officials, that moves the new restrictive rules.

“Sonder adheres to all local laws in Boston and relocated nearly half of its portfolio in August to comply with the city’s short-term rental ordinance,” the company said. “Our remaining units are all fully licensed or in the process of being licensed as executive suites. We expect all fines to be resolved through the appeal process.

But Inspection Services Division assistant commissioner Claudia Correa said Sonder and the “large number” of homeowners seeking administrative hearings are at risk in holding their ground.

“The fines will be very heavy if the hearings don’t have the outcome they hoped for,” Correa told the Herald.

She said the city will add another $300 penalty for each day officials can show companies continue to use properties as short-term rentals since the original fine, which could add up to tens of thousands of dollars. dollars more than the company has to pay.

Last week, Boston imposed 288 fines totaling $72,000 under its new short-term rental law. Most fines – which are for “failure to register a short-term rental unit” – are $300 per person.

Churchill Living, with 16 fines, and Global Luxury Suites, with 13, according to city records, are also fighting the city. Correa said the two are also seeking administrative hearings — and risk larger fines if they don’t prevail.

Churchill Living did not respond to requests for comment. In November, ISD Commissioner Dion Irish said the company was simply absorbing the fines as a cost of doing business in the city. Irish told the Herald at the time that city prosecutors were preparing the “nukes” to deal with businesses that ignored the new short-term rental law.

Global Luxury Suites also did not respond to requests for comment. The owner of 538 E. Broadway also failed to register Joseph Bisognano III, who racked up the most fines, eight, of any owner not affiliated with a major corporation, according to city records.

Mayor Martin Walsh and the city council passed the short-term rental ordinance a year ago in a bid to reduce the growing number of apartments coming out of the rental market so people can register on platforms like Airbnb, by far the largest short-term rental platform. Airbnb now requires all advertisers to use their city-issued registration numbers, ensuring its listings are legal.

Of more than 6,000 short-term rental units listed last year, only 1,899 applied to the city for a registration number, of which 815 were approved and 822 denied so far, Correa said.

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