Marty Walsh, Boston Mayor [Photo Credit: Boston.gov]

Boston closes possible short-term rental property loophole

US: The city of Boston, which introduced legislation against short-term rentals last year, closed a possible loophole earlier this week.

The city’s zoning commission rejected the efforts of property investors in 11 city neighbourhoods to rebrand apartment clusters as “executive suites”.

The current law requires that companies apply for permits from the zoning board if they seek to convert any properties in the city into short-term rental properties, hoping to prevent investors from purchasing apartment blocks and transforming them into Airbnbs, driving rents along with it.

Resident Alicia Cacho said: “I’m somewhat at ease — the city is so expensive as it is. Hopefully, this buys us some time.”

The amendment still needs the signature of the mayor in order to become law, but insiders feel confident he will, after his signing of a law preventing the expansion of investor units within the city.

Many short-term rental companies, including Sonder, Churchill Living and Global Luxury, have felt pressure from the city, racking up fines for continuing to operate in spite of legislation. A spokesperson for Sonder said that the company intends to “honour the process” and will continue to pursue the conversion into executive suites.

Housing advocates claimed the shift as a victory but are concerned that another loophole will make itself present soon, dashing attempts to improve the city’s high rent prices.

Housing chief Dillon said: “The city’s been working very hard to increase the supply of housing because we need a larger vacancy rate. We need additional supply if we’re going to continue to make progress on rents and sales prices.”

It follows major news in Scotland this week that parliament would begin legislation to limit short-term rental properties, attempting to return power to local city councils. Airbnb, the major player in the sector, has been attempting to control its image more recently, de-listing 28 problem properties in the city of Los Angeles.

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