City Ordinance to Prepare for Short-term Rentals in Advance of Casino Opening

Just one week after the City Council engrossed a short-term (AirBNB) ordinance in the City, the administration is preparing to implement that new ordinance, especially as the City begins to see more and more visitors when the Encore Boston Harbor casino opens.

City Attorney Keith Slattery has assigned new intern Matt Lattanzi to spearhead the implementation. Both said this week they were pleased the Council approved the measure, which comes on the heels of a new state law that passed suddenly at the end of 2018.

“We decided it would be a good idea to regulate them, especially with the resort casino coming,” said Slattery. “We really want the public to know it is a voluntary regulation. If we get information someone is hosting a short-term rental, we will investigate. However, the mayor is always very concerned about resident safety and I think this is a perfect example of that…This is a focused ordinance and falls under the state legislation just passed a few months ago.”

Lattanzi said the City has instituted a 3 percent Community Impact Fee that will more than likely be directed towards affordable housing and infrastructure.

“We’re not 100 percent sure, but we believe the administration will decide to distribute all of the 3 percent to affordable housing and infrastructure,” Lattanzi said.

Slattery said the numbers of short-term rentals varies, but he has seen about 35 routinely on the AirBNB site alone. There are many other sites, Lattanzi said, and it will be impossible to regulate them all. However, they hope to be able to do so.

The new ordinance will require hosts to register with the City, and that will also go into a statewide registry as well. That will result in safety inspections and allow the City to institute a taxation structure. That local tax will be on top of a state tax that comes as part of the new state law.

Lattanzi and Slattery said they really wanted to make sure the housing stock wasn’t overtaken in the coming years as the casino and other amenities begin to spring up and, potentially, attract travelers or those looking for short-term accommodations.

“It’s to guarantee people who are hosts will maintain their properties,” he said. “We also don’t want to keep developers from coming in to build because they see so many short-term rentals that they cannot compete with or don’t want to compete with. It could ravage the housing stock.”

The ordinance has a 30-day waiting period from its engrossment, and should be in effect within the month.

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