BOSTON, MA — With the market for peer-to-peer services, such as Uber, exploding in Greater Boston and across the country, Representative Miceli and the House of Representatives debated and passed legislation bringing protection to AirBNB users, as well as giving control to municipalities on how to address such properties.
“I am not against letting folks use their cars, homes, or other resources to make themselves money,” said Representative Miceli upon passing of the bill. “I am, however, hesitant to allow anyone to pursue such things with little or no oversight. We don’t allow ride-sharing programs to drive cars which are dangerous, why would we allow people to stay in a private residence that’s no better than a slum? In addition, the numbers of complaints neighbors have towards these properties in the greater Boston area have soared. Can you imagine coming home to short-term neighbors who change on a daily or weekly basis? Who may be loud, noisy, or damaging to your property, and whose landlord just doesn’t care? This market may be new, but the problems are already apparent and the bill helps put forward solutions that actually work.”
The legislation hands control of many safety aspects to the local communities, where towns and cities could adopt bylaws to require safety inspections of units, including fire inspections to ensure working detectors, second routes of emergency egress, and other issues. Cities heavily impacted by the purchase of houses by investors to convert to short term rentals could also choose to tax investors or professionally managed properties, in order to dissuade the purchase of properties in a market where housing stock is already tight without contribution.
In addition to expanding municipal oversight, the bill directs the Department of Revenue to create a registry of short-term rentals and offers a taxation schedule based on the number of units a short-term rental owner has in a portfolio. The registry would allow the state to identify “hot-markets’ in certain towns and neighborhoods, and ensure that local housing would not become so restricting that the markets would become a bubble as investors competed to buy up property to convert to short term rentals. In addition, it requires that landlords of such units record information on renters, in case of accidents, criminal activity, or other issues as an established hotel or motel would. Lastly, the bill outlined a tax schedule depending on the number of holdings a landlord has, with large-scale rental companies facing a ten-percent tax on such units. Small companies or single-property owners would be subject to much lower rates, with revenue earmarked for local elderly and disabled housing development and maintenance.
The bill will likely be next subject to a joint committee, to rectify differences with a similar proposal from the Senate.
(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Jim Miceli’s Office.)
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