Airbnb Removes Thousands of Listings Under New Boston Law

December 5, 2019

New regulations that took effect in Boston on Sunday prompted Airbnb to remove thousands of listings from its site. The short-term rental site is facing increasing scrutiny from cities about how hosts are renting out their properties.

In Boston, new regulations require hosts to register their listings with the city. The law is designed to ban investor units—properties that are meant to be residential but then are primarily used for short-term housing. To use Airbnb, hosts must own their properties and live in them for at least nine months of the year. Boston lawmakers have also limited listings to one per host. Hosts are required to register their units with the city every year and pay an annual licensing fee.

As of a month ago, the city had about 4,000 total listings in Boston. City officials have received 1,778 applications to register listings; only 737 have been approved so far, as reported on Tuesday by CNBC. Airbnb says it has removed all listings from its platform that did not display a license number from the city of Boston.

The new Boston regulations, first passed by lawmakers in July 2018, faced legal challenges from Airbnb. The regulations just took effect Dec. 1.

Other cities have also been cracking down on short-term listings in their communities and looking to address concerns from long-term residents who live near them. In San Francisco, lawmakers in 2018 imposed regulations that cut the number of Airbnb listings in the city by half. New Orleans and Portland, Ore., have similar regulations to Boston that will take effect Jan. 1.

“Across the city, rents are growing more and more out of reach,” Boston city councilor Michelle Wu told CNBC about the new regulations in the city. “Through closing the corporate loopholes for de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods while preserving homeowners’ ability to benefit from home-sharing, the regulations are designed to help more Bostonians stay in their homes.”