What you need to know about the mass bill to regulate Airbnb

Update 12/28/18Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation to tax and regulate short-term home rentals like Airbnb, according to a Massachusetts Lodging Association statement to the State House News Service.

“By adopting a more level playing field between short-term rentals and traditional tenants, lawmakers have made great strides towards a more just and sane system,” Association CEO Paul Sacco said in the statement. communicated.

Original message:

Rentals made through websites like Airbnb and HomeAway may soon be regulated statewide.

A short-term rental housing bill took a new lease of life on Thursday as leaders in Massachusetts House and the Senate reached a compromise just before the end of the two-year legislative session. The new bill is now on the governor’s desk.

Here is what you need to know about the legislation:

What’s in the invoice?

The new bill would apply a 5.7% tax to short-term housing rentals – the same lodging tax currently applied to hotels and motels.

The bill, however, gives cities and towns the ability to levy additional taxes or other regulations, including a total ban on short-term rentals.

The legislation would also create a statewide registry of short-term rental accommodation to help track where they are, and it would require operators to purchase insurance for their short-term rentals.

“The bill conforms to a basic framework of leveling the playing field between short-term rentals and traditional accommodation establishments, preserving local control and protecting consumers engaged in the emerging market of short-term rentals, said State Senator Michael Rodrigues, who worked on the bill.

How is this bill different from past attempts to regulate short-term rentals?

The Legislature passed a similar bill in July, but Gov. Charlie Baker fired it with some concerns. Baker wanted to limit the amount of information that would be made public in the registry. So this new bill does this by requiring only street names instead of full addresses (with street numbers).

Baker was also concerned about taxing people who only rented their homes a few days a year. Thus, under the new bill, people who rent their accommodation for 14 days or less would not be subject to the lodging tax.

The new bill also defers additional fundraising charges for the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center by approximately 10 years.

What do short-term rental companies say about the bill?

They are not at all happy with this and urge the governor to veto it.

Philip Minardi of Expedia Group – which owns HomeAway, VRBO, and other home-sharing websites – said the bill was not a compromise at all.

“It would be easier to convince myself, and I think a lot of people across Massachusetts, that a banana is an orange than to argue that this bill is a fair compromise,” Minardi said during a telephone interview.

He said the bill jeopardizes people’s privacy with the public registry and places unnecessary demands on people who rent their homes. He also disputes the fact that lawmakers “adopted a proposal at the 11th hour”.

Airbnb raised similar concerns and, in a statement, the company urged lawmakers to “take the time necessary” to put in place a “common sense home-sharing policy.”

Do communities like this state legislation?

Many communities where residents have called for short-term rental regulations are thrilled with the new bill. Karen Chen, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association, said people buy homes in Chinatown just to rent them on Airbnb, which displaces long-time residents of the neighborhood.

“If all we have is Airbnb, you know Boston will lose its heart and soul,” Chen said. “We want to have neighborhoods.

According to Chen, the number of Airbnb rentals in Chinatown doubled to around 200 in just a few months last summer.

Doesn’t Boston already have an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals?

Yes. It is expected to come into force on January 1. The Boston ordinance requires short-term rentals to register with the city and prohibits people from short-term renting in units they don’t live in (i.e. investor units) .

The state bill would not change what Boston is doing.

But it should be noted that Airbnb has filed a trial against the city of Boston on its ordinance. Thus, certain provisions are retained in court, such as the obligation for the company to share data with the city and the fines imposed on companies for illegal registration.

The rest of the Boston ordinance will progress on Jan. 1, including potential fines for non-compliant hosts, according to City Councilor Michelle Wu, who has led local regulatory efforts. Wu said the state bill strengthens what the city is trying to do.

“Because the state law proposed now, the new compromise version, would include requirements for a statewide registration and database, it would really support the city’s authority to require this kind of data sharing at the municipal level, ”Wu said in a statement. telephone interview.

Airbnb declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Any indication of whether the governor will sign the bill into law?

Baker is reviewing the new bill, according to the governor’s office. He has 10 days (from its adoption) to decide whether to sign it or not. This gives it a deadline of December 30.

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