MassLandlords Position on Airbnb Regulation

Screenshot of the top half of the four-page Cambridge Ordinance 1397, Short-Term Rental Zoning.

Airbnb regulations such as enacted by the City of Cambridge partially meet with landlord approval, partially do not.

MassLandlords is democratically governed and has utilized member input in several forms to set a position on Airbnb regulation. Here is where the association stands. Some positions do not pertain to the City of Cambridge’s Ordinance 1397, but rather contemplate issues Cambridge did not.

On a tenant’s right to sublet, our members would not support a Chicago-like right to sublet by all reasonable means. Members would sustain the landlord’s right to choose whether a tenant may sublet. There is some disagreement on this issue: a few members think tenants should have the freedom to sublet so long as the landlord’s screening criteria are met.

On the taxation of short-term rentals, we have not surveyed members. But based on a detailed survey about real estate taxes in Worcester, in 2015, and considering personal conversations we have had, we infer that most members would be in favor of a fair tax that was deemed necessary for a good reason. We also infer that members would not support a tax imposed because a competing lobby asked for it (e.g., the hotel lobby).

On the City of Cambridge’sban on distant owners operating Airbnb themselves, we are aware that some owners across Massachusetts have built, renovated, or started operating properties specifically for the purpose of renting via Airbnb. We therefore oppose this ban and support the idea of distant Airbnb operation as an innovation that satisfies a real market need.

On the City of Cambridge’s enforcement of sanitary code for Airbnb, we recognize the obvious health and safety need. Furthermore, we recognize that long-term rentals have been at an economic disadvantage because they have been inspected against sanitary code, building code, and fire code, whereas short term rentals have not. For these reasons, we support the idea that Airbnb’s should be inspected for safety.

On the City of Cambridge’s ordinance overall, we believe the prohibition on distant rentals will drive distant Airbnb operators onto the black market, avoiding inspection, and that the ordinance will therefore prove self-defeating in its effort to improve health and safety.

Overall, Airbnb ranks tenth behind other issues on the member Policy Priorities Survey. MassLandlords resources are directed accordingly.

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