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!