Boston Airbnb hosts must register with city by December under lawsuit settlement
- Sep 10, 2019 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
Airbnb has settled its lawsuit against Boston over the city’s strict short-term rental law. The settlement means Boston can move forward with enforcing the law, which went into effect January 1 but was put on hold while the lawsuit proceeded. The law was passed in summer 2018, and Airbnb sued the city last fall.
Airbnb agreed to rules requiring short-term rental hosts to own the properties that they rent out. Landlords must live in short-term rentals for at least nine months out of the year. Short-term rental operators must also register with the city under the new law and online listings must include registration numbers. Penalties for breaking the law range from $100 to $300 per day for both hosts and platforms.
As part of the agreement, Airbnb will start offering hosts a way to add registration numbers to their listings starting September 1. Hosts must register by December 1 or Airbnb will remove their listings.
One of Airbnb’s main objections to the law was a requirement for platforms to share information on hosts, but under the settlement, Airbnb has agreed to provide Boston with such information in order to help the city with enforcement. Airbnb will provide monthly reports that include hosts’ registration numbers, listing information, and ZIP code.
The Airbnb settlement also includes a Fairness Across Platforms provision stating that the city will begin talks with Airbnb competitors, such as Vrbo and Booking.com, to formalize their own agreements. Under that provision, Airbnb will be able to view these agreements and can communicate with the city if those are more favorable than Airbnb’s settlement.
Besides the city registration requirements, hosts in Boston are also now required to register with the state Department of Revenue, collect state occupancy taxes from guests, and file monthly occupancy tax returns, according to a new state short-term rental law that went into effect on July 1. 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.
Also as of July 1, 2019, online platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo are responsible for collecting and remitting occupancy taxes on behalf of their Massachusetts hosts. However, hosts are still required to register with the state Department of Revenue. Short-term rental operators were required to file their first state occupancy tax returns by August 20.
MyLodgeTax can automate and simplify occupancy tax for all Massachusetts short-term rental hosts. For more on vacation rental lodging taxes in Massachusetts, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guide. If you have tax questions related to Boston vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.