Mass. Lawmakers Are Cautious of Airbnb’s New Tune

The home-sharing service has changed its tune on regulation and oversight.


Via Airnb

After beating back a potentially crippling new ordinance in its hometown of San Francisco, short-term vacation rental service Airbnb is now attempting to embrace local regulators with open arms.

The company announced a “Community Compact” this week that says it is now interested in working with local communities in order to develop better policies by sharing data and “promoting responsible home sharing.” Plus, they are willing to pay taxes on rental properties.

We will work to ensure that the Airbnb community pays its fair share of taxes while honoring our commitment to protect our hosts’ and guests’ privacy. This includes helping to ensure the efficient collection of tourist and/or hotel taxes in cities that have such taxes. We will work to implement this initiative in as many communities as possible.

This is a notable shift for the company as it, like other startups, have followed a blueprint of bulldozing their way into communities, ignoring regulations, building up marketshare to the point where they’re a force to be reckoned with, and then asking for forgiveness and regulatory oversight.

State Rep. Aaron 
Michlewitz of the North End and a sponsor of legislation that would regulate companies like Airbnb, FlipKey, and HomeAway, welcomed their change in tune with caution.

“Acknowledging these issues and working to address them are two different things,” said Michlewitz in an interview with the Boston Herald“It comes down to the details,” he said.

The legislation Michlewitz filed would force people who list their homes on Airbnb to register in their municipality, carry $500,000 in insurance, and pay a five percent tax on income derived from renting their property.

The Boston City Council has held hearings on Airbnb, but stopped short of throwing them out of the city like other sharing apps like Haystack.

Condo associations have been less receptive though, often punishing homeowners for the sins of their paying guests.