Airbnb Removes Thousands of Listings in Boston
Airbnb has to comply with strict new regulations in Boston that require hosts to register their listings with the city. The new regulations are designed to ban so-called investor units or properties meant to be residential that are exclusively or primarily used for short-term housing. Lawmakers say, such units inflate the housing market and drive out long-term residents.
This crackdown comes amid a wave of similar laws proposed in cities around the world. Such regulations could damage in the business model of tech giants that is looking to go public. The city has received 1,778 applications for registration, and so far, approved 737, city officials said. The company had about 4,000 total listings in Boston just over a month ago, according to city officials.
An Airbnb spokeswoman said the company has removed all listings from the platform on Sunday that didn’t display a license number from the city of Boston. City officials said they requested data from Airbnb on the number of listings removed by the company but have yet to receive it.
The new rules require that hosts own the properties they rent out and live in them for at least nine months of the year. They also limit listings to one per host and require hosts to register their units with the city every year as well as pay an annual licensing fee. Properly licensed listings will display a policy number above the cancellation policy section. The regulations were first passed in July 2018, then became effective in August 2019 after a legal challenge from Airbnb was settled.
Boston city councilor Michelle Wu said in an emailed statement, “Across the city, rents are growing more and more out of reach. Through closing the corporate loopholes for de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods while preserving homeowners’ ability to benefit from home-sharing, the regulations are designed to help more Bostonians stay in their homes.”
An Airbnb spokesperson said, “As per our legal settlement, we are prepared to work with the City to take the appropriate action against listings that have not provided a license number so that they are no longer available as short-term rentals. But it is important to note that this is intended to be a long-term, collaborative process.”
Boston joins a growing wave of cities imposing new regulations on short-term rentals from Airbnb and other providers. Cities like Ontario (Canada), Jersey City, San Francisco, Toronto, and many others have implemented such laws. With Airbnb expected to go public next year, such regulations could affect investors’ outlook on the company.