Proposed MA House Bill #2816 and your Airbnb

State house in Boston

There is a bill that has been proposed in the MA House of Representatives that could dramatically alter the short term rental landscape in the entire state. Before giving a summary and recommendations, I’d like to point out that the likelihood of this passing ‘as is’ is very unlikely, however it will take an effort from all affected parties to get the bill right. In the SF area they have already repealed a bill that was prohibitive to investors and non permanent residents much like this one, so there is a good precedent set in favor of hosts. In case you struggle with the legal jargon like us, here are some bullet points from the proposed bill (summary and recommendations courtesy of Airbnb host Nancy L.):

  • Short term rentals must be the primary residence of the owner or renter, which is defined as living there for more than 60 days, and can show proof such as car registration, voting record, driver’s license, ect.
  • Only one unit will be allowed to be rented regardless of the size of the apartment, or house.
  • Will apply a 5% excise tax to the state and a local excise tax of 6.5% for Boston or 6% elsewhere in MA (similar to hotel tax).
  • Must register every 2 years to Dept. Housing & Community Development for a fee of $50.
  • Must have liability insurance of at least $500,000.
  • $1000 fine per day, per unit for non compliance.

This bill will have a negative impact on property owners, which includes Airbnb hosts, Bed & Breakfast owners, vacation rentals and short term rental businesses. As stated at the hearing, many use this income to help pay off mortgages, college tuition, fix up their property or to supplement their earnings due to retirement, unemployment or an unexpected occurrence.

The Bed & Breakfast owners and the short term rental businesses have organized, met with Rep Michlewitz (the Rep who proposed this bill) and are contacting their local representatives about their issues with this bill. The Airbnb host community need to do the same so that any changes to the bill will not further negatively impact us. Our suggestions are the following:

  • Remove the one unit requirement. It should be based on # of bedrooms or units in the house.
  • Remove the primary residence requirement. It should be restricted to owners of properties unless permission is given by the owner. (Renters should not be allowed to rent out beds or rooms without the permission of the property owner).
  • Do not require a registration. This is unnecessary and additional burden. Another tax. It does nothing to add to the safety of the rental units. Also it does not apply to rentals that are more than 30 days.
  • Require property owners to place the safety precautions as in for long term rentals; fire extinguisher, smoke & CO2 detectors, emergency exits, ect.
  • Reduce the tax: 2.5% for state, 2.5% local . Not to discourage travelers that have limited means.

Again, we are confident that the current bill (which would especially hurt Cape Cod and island B&B’s) will not pass in its current state, but it would be wise to contact your state representative to let them know your feelings and what short term rentals do for you (and your community). As existing hosts know well, we are bringing tourists, families, and professionals into our neighborhoods who are spending money at local establishments (per our recommendations), and helping support our local economies far more than hotel guests.

Have any thoughts or ways to help? Please contact us.

State of Boston home sharing


The city of Boston recently hosted a feedback gathering session from stakeholders on both sides of the home sharing debate (in favor and opposed) in order to formulate a plan going forward for how to deal with the growing supply and demand. In this meeting, the city put out the following statistics on the state of Boston home sharing:

As of August, 2014:
Boston had ~2,000 home-sharing listings
Boston listed units from ~1,200 hosts
~40,000 visitors used home-sharing options in Boston per year
~80% of hosts rented out their primary residence

The majority of speakers at the event represented hosts, while there were few who spoke against the prospect of home sharing in their buildings.

In order to direct the conversation and reasoning behind the meeting, city reps displayed the following existing regulations in place from other cities nationwide:


There was not any bias presented towards which example the city was leaning towards emulating.

During the meeting multiple hosts spoke to the benefits of home sharing for them and the neighboring community. Some of the speakers included Boston businesses that were seeing growth thanks to home sharing.

On the flip side the typical responses from the opposition side were related to concerns about bringing a high volume of travelers (strangers) into their common space, however there were few actual examples of problems presented, just the common fear of the unknown.

A Selectman spoke for the opposition bringing up the difference between “for profit” home sharing, and those renting private rooms in their homes – which he “had no problem with.” The idea behind his argument was that unless something is done to stop it, residential neighborhoods would become overrun with speculators buying up Boston real estate to rent solely on a short term basis.

I believe the consensus among the opposition (and increasingly the city) as the night went on, was that home sharing – the actual sharing of ones home – is generally going to be allowed in most instances as long as it does not violate a lease or condo rules. There may eventually be registration required with the city.

Renting out entire apartments however, seems to be getting a negative connotation and will witness some type of regulation and limitation in upcoming legislation. What that legislation is, or how much of a limitation home sharers will see is yet to be known, but it is my belief that the city will impose legislation similar to Portland, OR – limiting the % of units allowed to be rented on a short term basis in each building and imposing a registration and a tax on hosts.

While this may sound daunting to hosts who are currently renting their entire Boston apartments out, it will actually remove the concerns about zoning and lodging house licensing if your home is part of the ~25% allowed to home share.

We will keep you updated as the conversation continues with the city, but in the meantime, home sharing in Boston remains like the Wild West and the consensus is that hosts are not going to be penalized for past hosting if/when regulations are imposed – so host-away!

Home staging to home sharing: stop losing money while selling your condo


When selling or renting out your home – it always shows best with nice furniture in place (and no clutter in the way) to allow buyers and renters to visualize the space. Staging a home is something that many Boston real estate agents will suggest in order to attract buyers for your desired price.

While most will agree that staging is important to get the right price for your property, it is not a reality for many sellers who are turned away by the cost. Even with staging, properties are still likely to remain vacant for a long period of time until the closing. In Boston, the average condo is on the market for 52 days according to MLS data below:

days on market boston condos

yet almost half of these homes are vacant throughout the listing period. The median homes are sitting on the market for nearly 2 months! If sellers don’t live in the home or have renters, they are losing thousands of dollars during that time.

It’s time for a change.

MyUrbanBnB wants to combine home staging with home sharing. You already have furniture in place (or should get some) and a desirable location in Boston, so why not offset your costs by temporarily renting your home to screened guests, on your own schedule, and without interfering with pre-set showing times? For instance, you can block availability on Saturdays and Sundays for open houses, or leave Wednesday open for scheduled showings. All the while, your Back Bay condo will be producing income the rest of the nights of the week until you have a buyer. Even if the condo is your primary residence, this would also be a great way to start moving out early and begin to de-clutter for picky buyers.

Sound interesting? Contact us today to learn more and get started!