Short-term rentals in Boston, airbnbs looking to rezone to stay open

Owners of non-resident Airbnb-style properties – facing a Dec. 1 deadline that could close them – are pushing the zoning appeal board to reclassify their buildings as “boutique hotels” or “executive suites” and face to tired neighbors.

Landlords have filed 10 applications to upgrade 202 residential apartments since city councilors began debating regulation of the short-stay industry that includes popular sites like Airbnb, Sonder and Homeaway in 2018. Four of those applications were filed in the month of August alone.

More demands are likely as landlords look for “creative” ways to continue marketing their lucrative short-term rental properties, said Richard Giordano, director of policy and planning at Fenway Community Development Corp.

“Using the definition of ‘executive suites’ is a new way to continue to do short-term rentals and circumvent new city and state regulations and laws,” Giordano said.

Rebecca Pinn, who lives in an apartment building at 320 D St. where one-bedroom apartments rent for more than $3,000 a month, said she was alarmed when she found out the hotel company Sonder had asked in August to upgrade 17 apartments in his building to executive suites. it could continue to rent the accommodation on a short-term basis.

“No one represents residents,” Pinn said, calling the rezoning a “black box process” that favors developers and confuses residents.

Sonder spokesman Mason Harrison said the multinational “seeks and adheres to the appropriate licensing framework in each city” where it operates and has ceased operation of 125 spaces. The city’s short-term rental regulations went into effect Jan. 1 with a Sept. 1 sunset clause for existing operations. Another December 1 deadline looms to register short-term rentals operated by non-residents. The company submitted reclassification requests for 65 apartments in South Boston and 186 Brookline Ave.

Requests for apartment upgrades have doubled in the past month and Councilman Ed Flynn, who represents the area, said it was an attempt to “abuse the system”.

“I don’t want to see any loopholes,” Flynn said. “We need strict enforcement of the order.”

Flynn said it’s about people who live nearby.

“These are neighborhoods – they’re not hotels,” Flynn told the Herald.

Leslie Hammer of 320 D St. said short-term residential properties shouldn’t be given “special treatment” to circumvent zoning laws, especially when visitors go among long-term residents who are occupy the neighborhood.

“Would you like strangers to live where you live,” she asked.

Hammer said guests are particularly notorious for leaving trash behind.

“They have complete disregard for our waste disposal system,” she said.

Councilman Michael Flaherty, who chairs the government operations committee that crafted this order, said: “If operators are now getting cute and using other mechanisms to circumvent these guidelines, we will have to revisit the conversation and strengthen the regulations.

Dar Sandler, a real estate investor who has converted homes in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain into de facto hotels — including 21 Wyman St. where a man died last month in a shooting involving police — said he supports the regulations despite challenges”. for his businesses.

Sandler has asked to upgrade his Wyman Street property and another at 32 Perkins St. to boutique hotels

And the councilor for that area, Matt O’Malley, sided with him on Perkins Street, although the ZBA shot him dead. O’Malley told the Herald that there was nothing wrong with these owners being allowed to go and present their land to the ZBA, and that Perkins’ neighbors were supportive – unlike neighbors around the property of Wyman Street, which he opposed.

Sandler said he plans to withdraw his application to rezone the Wyman Street property.

“We always anticipated that if our order passed, that would be a potential pathway for some operators,” O’Malley said. “Community Process is an appropriate location for these types of boutique hotels or executive suites. This is the proper course for someone to petition the city.

But Councilor Tim McCarthy, who represents Hyde Park and Readville, said: ‘The classification as hotels really concerns me. I’m sure the next tip will have to address what is a hotel and what is an Airbnb.

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