Short Term Rentals Conference Committee Report

The House and Senate have reached an agreement to regulate and tax short term rentals, like Airbnb.  Perhaps most importantly, the bill preserves local control, giving cities and towns wide latitude to regulate short term rentals.  Preserving local control is critical because cities and towns across the Commonwealth have different concerns, and even within Boston, the impacts are different from neighborhood to neighborhood. By requiring registration of short term rental units, municipalities will be able to collect the data needed to better understand the impacts on different neighborhoods.

This bill would:

  • Tax short-term rentals and accommodations rented through hosting platforms like Airbnb at the same uniform tax rate imposed on stays at traditional brick-and-mortar lodging accommodations like hotels/motels/bed & breakfast establishments.  These taxes include: the room occupancy excise of 5.7%, the local option excise of up to 6%, and convention center financing fee of 2.75%, and will be assessed on short term rentals and accommodations rented through an intermediary/hosting platform.
  • Maintain an exemption for owner-occupied bed & breakfast homes that rent out fewer than 4 bedrooms.
  • Preserve local control and ensure cities or towns are empowered to regulate operators of short-term rentals.
    • Cities and towns may:
      • Regulate the existence or location of operators of short-term rentals.
      • Regulate the class of operators and number of local licenses or permits issued to persons operating accommodations, and the number of days a person may operate and rent out such accommodations in a calendar year.
      • Require health and safety inspections.
      • Require licensing or registration of operators.
      • Establish a reasonable fee to cover costs associated with the administration and enforcement of regulating operators and accommodations.
  • Require operators of short-term rentals and hosting platforms to maintain appropriate levels of insurance coverage.
  • Require operators of short-term rentals to register with the Department of Revenue to obtain a tax certificate.

A more detailed summary of the bill, prepared by Sen. Rodrigues’ office, can be seen here.

Andrew Bettinelli
Chief of Staff
Office of Senator William N. Brownsberger

Update from Will B. on Monday, August 6

The Governor has sent the bill back with a message proposing amendments. The message can be downloaded as a pdf from this page. When the Governor sends back a bill with amendments, it does not take effect. It comes back to us. But once it is back with us, it will require unanimous agreement to return it to him (since we are in informal sessions and roll call votes are not available). This bill is controversial and unanimous agreement is unlikely. So, the future of the bill is in doubt. If a bill does go back, it will be the product of a renegotiation with a different power balance (reflecting the requirement of unanimity) and may look different.

It is likely that this situation will stay in flux into the next session.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. What does above exemption “Owner-occupied bed & breakfasts” mean, exactly? I could not stay in my home & have it “owner-occupied,” if not for Airbnb, since neither State nor Boston agencies helped me when I was in foreclosure. But I not able to be an official Bed & Breakfast, since this is my family home and I only have two rooms which are usually rented to international grad. students going to either BU, BC or Harvard. And certtainly my home IS NOT a hotel, nor should my guests be taxed as if they are staying in one. Where is the “compromise” in this bill, since it seems the big hotels & union lobbies got everything they wanted, while we, the small potatoes home-owner, residents, are getting nothing but interference in our private lives. I am confused, please enlighten.

    yours,
    Deborah of Brighton

    1. Deborah of Brighton, Considering renting to your grad students as tenants at will or through a lease agreement. Avoid the headaches.

  2. That’s ridiculous. If the rental unit is part of an HOA that’s a decision that should be made by the homeowners. Not the state. It’s an opportunity for individuals who own their properties to earn extra income. Owners want the best, most responsible renters, it’s their personal property. I’m sure stand alone homeowners feel the same way.

    Just my opinion.

  3. LOL even more taxes. Massachusetts likes to tax everything soon there will be a tax on air don’t pay your air tax, stop breathing

  4. So glad that local control is established, do not want the state to usurp any of the city and town’s ability to govern themselves.

  5. Very unhappy that Gov Baker has effectively blocked this important bill. Cambridge enacted its own regulations this year, but our ability to enforce them rests with a state law being in place that requires a registry and a tax. Airbnb has not cooperated with the city on sharing data about their hosts, using the pending state legislation as a way to dodge us.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *