Judge blocks parts of Boston short-term rental law in Airbnb suit
- May 10, 2019 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
A federal judge has temporarily blocked parts of Boston’s controversial new short-term rental law while a lawsuit by Airbnb against the city proceeds.
United States District Judge Leo T. Sorokin upheld a requirement that Airbnb must report listing locations and types to the city, but found that the city could not require Airbnb to report how many days a week rentals are occupied.
Sorokin also ruled that the city could not stop a short-term rental platform from operating as punishment for posting or failing to remove listings for illegal vacation rentals. However, he did rule that the city was within its rights to impose a $300-per-day fine on short-term rental platforms each time a platform collects a fee on a booking for an illegal rental.
Late last year, the city agreed to delay enforcement of the fines against platforms and the data-sharing requirements until the judge made his recent ruling. The case is still ongoing, with both Airbnb and the city due to file a status report with the court by May 17.
The new law, which went into effect January 1, bans short-term rentals by owners who don’t live in the properties they rent out, as well as by renters. It also requires short-term rental hosts to register with the city every year.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city is going ahead with the short-term rental registry. “What we’re going to do is just continue to move forward with our registry and having people sign up,” he said.
Boston’s law also requires short-term rental hosts to collect the city’s room occupancy tax from guests and remit it to tax authorities. And starting in July, hosts must also collect state room occupancy tax, according to a new Massachusetts law that was passed last year.
The state law also requires short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway to register with the state, report the total rent/revenue of operators to the state, and notify operators when taxes are remitted for them.
While short-term rental platforms including Airbnb and HomeAway collect lodging taxes on behalf of their hosts in some states, neither of them have such an agreement with Massachusetts. This means vacation rental operators are responsible for registering with tax authorities, collecting state and local taxes, filing tax returns, and remitting payment. MyLodgeTax can automate and simplify tax compliance for all Boston short-term rental hosts.
For more about short-term rental taxes in Massachusetts, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guide.