Senator Lesser Votes to Pass Bill Ensuring Safety, Prevent Undertaxing of Short-Term Rentals

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Wednesday to pass a bill updating state law to adapt to new ways in which people rent short-term accommodations, such as through the website and mobile app Airbnb. The bill, S. 2381 An Act regulating and insuring short-term rentals, requires those renting out rooms or properties through websites like Airbnb and HomeAway to obtain a certificate of registration from the state Department of Revenue. It was filed by Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues and co-sponsored by Sen. Lesser.

“This bill levels the playing field so that all those in our hospitality industry, from motels to bed-and-breakfasts and others are treated equally and fairly. Importantly, this law allows for local rules, local zoning, to give flexibility to different communities that have different populations and different needs. Many cities and towns, particularly in Western Mass, experience seasonal tourism due to events like the Big E, Tanglewood and Enshrinement at the Basketball Hall of Fame, and this cyclical economy supports thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill, which includes elements originally introduced by Sen. Lesser at the beginning of the legislative session, also empowers cities and towns to require registration, licensing and inspection in accordance with local ordinances or by-laws.

The legislation would generate an estimated $34.5 million and $25.5 million in state and local revenues, respectively, based on the most recent Senate Ways and Means Fiscal Impact Report. The expanded tax base will automatically apply to all 175-plus cities and towns that have already adopted the local room occupancy excise to date.

The bill also contains consumer protection measures, including an amendment filed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge requiring hosting platforms to maintain liability insurance.

The bill will now be negotiated with House members before a final version is sent to the governor’s desk.