Skip to comments.Bostonís Airbnb laws hit a roadblock with judge
Posted on 05/05/2019 10:38:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
Last year, we learned that Boston had passed a new set of laws specifically designed to essentially run Airbnb (along with their competitors in the home-sharing, gig economy market) out of business. Not only did they want to levy new taxes on hosts, but force the company to turn over virtually all of their internal records and develop registries to track hosts. The state of Massachusetts quickly followed suit with similar laws.
Airbnb challenged them in court and the process has been tied up since then. But this week, a judge ruled that two of the three provisions in the laws being challenged by the company were unconstitutional. It’s not a complete victory, but it has at least slowed Boston down a bit. (Boston Globe)
A federal judge has temporarily blocked the City of Boston from enacting two provisions of a short-term rental ordinance passed last summer but is allowing officials to proceed with a third element of the act regulating the growing online market for lodgings in private homes.
US District Judge Leo T. Sorokin, ruling Friday on a motion in a lawsuit filed by San Francisco-based Airbnb last November, declared that Boston cant eject a short-term rental service from the city as punishment for posting and failing to remove listings that violate the ordinance.
Sorokin, who heard arguments April 8 on the motion, also ruled that Boston cant require short-term rental services to report to the city how many days each month a rental is occupied. He wrote that Airbnb would be irreparably harmed by having to comply with an unconstitutional requirement that it disclose private business information.
The judge found it to be within the city’s power to charge a fine of $300 per day whenever it was determined that people were leasing out “illicit rentals.” How the city gets to determine which bits of private property are unqualifed for overnight rentals has yet to be addressed. But at least for now, Boston won’t be able to force Airbnb out of the city entirely for any violation of these laws, nor will they be able to force them to turn over records of how many days per month a unit is rented out.
That second part will make it particularly hard to enforce the ridiculous limits that both the city and state want to put in place on host traffic. One rule only allows exemptions from the ruinous regulations if you don’t rent out your room for more than fourteen days per year. (And if that’s all the use you are allowed to make of it there’s little point in signing up for the service in the first place.)
Still, some of the basic portions of the new regulations will remain in place and the city is praising this great “victory” that supposedly is making people safer. The reality, of course, is something else entirely. These regulatory efforts are a bone being thrown to the powerful hotel industry and their lobbyists like the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). The New York Times revealed in 2017 that the AHLA was working on a multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level.
That campaign included specific methods and targets designed to choke the life out of Airbnb and protect their industry’s profits. They cited specific cities with Democratic leadership to target because they would be the ones most open to the message, including Boston.The industry gives a lot of money to politicians, so they were obviously going to listen. And in Boston, along with San Francisco and other urban centers, the message was received loud and clear. Now the gig industry is fighting for its life in court and the future still isn’t looking very bright.
I’m torn on this.
As a traveler AirBnB is great, but as a property owner, it doesn’t thrill me to think that I’m going to have constant guests who are there to party and smash things up.
Simple solution - don't rent your place on Airbnb.
The right to property is more basic than the right to free speech. If you can not control even your own own property, including your own person and own labor, then what is the point of speech?
But is that fear any more valid than if you lived next to a regular BNB, though?
>>Simple solution - don’t rent your place on Airbnb.
I suspect the OP meant having others houses in the neighborhood that are rented out, and that cause problems.
I also have mixed feelings about it - its really hard to call a house that an investor buys, and basically never lives in but rents it out 20-30-40+ weeks a year, anything other than a business - and since people who do live in their houses in the same neighborhood (zone residential BTW), it’s hard to not be sympathetic to their concerns - I wouldn’t want to be live in a neighborhood were there were lots and lots of transient neighbors - different people every few days or weeks.
Even as a free-market type of person, and keep the government out-of-my-face - permanently renting out houses in an area zone residential - and without the same rules and restrictions as competing businesses sort of seems unfair (unless you are the one making the money for renting out the property).
I could be wrong, but I thought BNBs were subject to much more regulation than AirBNB.
And I don't see any locale doing anything about those.
Gee, I wonder why...
Airbnb caters to an upscale clientele who are more into doing wine tours and other sightseeing touristy things than holding keg parties at the host location. Typically they are looking for a place to sleep at night and are busy the rest of the day doing things around town.
I'm sure there are Airbnb horror stories out there but does not seem to be the norm. The general experience (both host and traveler) tends to be a pleasant one.
The libertarian in me doesn't want these restrictions on private property owners, but I also believe municipal codes related to zoning and land use are legitimate.
Remind me to tell you about the “lovely ranch style 3/2 home” my niece bought out of foreclosure in Sonoma, CA. a few years ago. On the outside it looked nice, but inside four Mexican families had “re-demised” the living and dining rooms into multiple bedrooms including adding exterior windows that were unfinished. The swimming pool was full of “green water,” and none of the appliances in the kitchen were functional (lots of dried out tortillas under the cabinets). The Beaners walked away from this place when the bottom fell out of the market and their $750,000 home had dropped to $300k!
Illegal MFDs are a big problem in my neck of the NYS woods.
And nothing is being done.
“The libertarian in me doesn’t want these restrictions on private property owners, but I also believe municipal codes related to zoning and land use are legitimate.”
Right on! It’s tough enough today to find decent long-term renters.
Our niece’s place was so filthy inside that I had to spray ALL the walls with primer prior to painting. You could not wash the filth off of the walls! America should not become a place for “foreign animals” to “nest!”
AirB+B has been a wonderful option when you have mutliple family members that want to stay in the same place..
Screen applicants. My airbnb friends love the business and have made many good friends by renting to well screened applicants.
Naples Florida and other Florida cities are trying to enact laws prohibiting rentals of individual homes and condos from being rented less than 6 months. At a time.
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