ALERT: Massachusetts issues lodging restriction order

Another fun email from Airbnb. I was waiting until this afternoon’s “LTR announcement” to decide whether to offer current guests booked thru mid-May the option to extend (since everyone after that has canceled), but now I’m not even sure if that’s legal:

First of all, we truly hope that you are well in this moment of uncertainty.

We are contacting you because you have an Airbnb listing in Massachusetts, which is currently under an emergency order.

As of March 31, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has ordered vacation rentals to immediately begin to cease operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.

The order mandates vacation rental operators refrain from accepting new guests commencing on Tuesday, March 31 through May 4, 2020. Guests with bookings or agreements to occupy lodgings may not exercise those agreements and may not occupy lodgings; and hosts shall not accept bookings unless the lodgings are provided for one of the purposes below.

In addition, guests currently on trips starting before March 31, 2020 may remain, but their stay may not extend their originally scheduled reservation except for one of the purposes below:

Housing and accommodation for health care workers, first responders, and other workers constituting the COVID-19 Essential Workforce.

To the extent not already included above, housing and accommodation for out-of-state workers engaged in transportation of materials, logistics, and construction associated with the delivery of health-related services, such as the development of COVID-19 alternative care sites;

Housing and accommodation for members of vulnerable populations, for instance when serving as emergency shelter for homeless individuals and families;

Housing and accommodation for Massachusetts residents (i) who are isolating or self-quarantining; and (ii) families or roommates of individuals who are isolating or self-quarantining; but (iii) in each case, for no longer than the period required to complete the necessary period of self-isolation or self-quarantining;

Housing and accommodation for individuals receiving long-term, specialized medical care from a physician located in the Commonwealth, and for accompanying family Members;

Housing, accommodation, and shelter when required by extenuating circumstances such as fire or casualty to ensure the care and safety of Massachusetts residents and to accommodate other persons unable to return to their own homes due to flight cancellations, border closures, or other direct and material constraints on travel

You can read the full order here. This order is likely to be extended so make sure to check out the resources and updates directly on Massachusetts’s website.

Please check with your commonwealth, county, and city government officials and coordinate directly with your guests accordingly. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but appreciate your support in ensuring compliance with these regulations as Commonwealth and local governments address coronavirus (COVID-19) public health concerns.

All guests with upcoming reservations will receive a similar email. Cancellations will be handled according to your cancellation policy or, if booked on or before March 14, 2020 with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and May 31, 2020, under Airbnb’s Updated Extenuating Circumstances Policy.

For more on Massachusetts’s COVID-19 guidelines and information, please visit their website. Our thoughts are with you and our community during this time.

The Airbnb team

The list of exceptions is very broad and IMO fair and reasonable really - it seems like anyone needing an airbnb right now should fit one of those many categories.

What is the reason for your current guest’s stay?

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They would probably qualify under the “can’t fly home/canceled international flights” category.

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Then I would contact airbnb and get that documented if you want to keep them.

I would just email the guest and confirm if they fit into an exemption and keep that email in case the State looks into it. I fail to see how how contacting air would be at all useful, it is the government who might be asking down the line.


The email is from Airbnb and they are saying:

And there are some states already that have compelled Airbnb to block out calendars and cancel reservations. For example, hosts in Vermont have reported that Airbnb blocked out their calendars. And Massachusetts already has a precedent of having that kind of agreement with Airbnb. It’s wholly possible that Airbnb will block out her calendar and not let her extend her guests’ reservation. Of course she could just extend them with a direct-book but she didn’t mention wanting to do that. If she wants to extend them on platform she needs to get it documented that it’s okay for that reservation to be extended or it likely won’t be able to.

For background, when Mass made STR laws they won a judgement that compelled Airbnb to drop listings from the website as opposed to having the hosts remove their own listings. So Airnb is likely to block out calendars there. Their AG does not fool around.

EZ PZ, take it off platform.

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I am sure if your guests can demonstrate there are no flights operating from the US to their country either directly or through indirect routes, they should be covered.

Which country are they from @MassHost

@Helsi They’re students from China studying at U.S. universities.

Just book direct for the extension

Bunnies on Porch

Our only guests in MA this Spring thanks to COVID

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I live in MA as well and received a pretty harsh directive from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue today. Along the same lines but using the state of emergency as the guiding principle basically outlawing short-term rentals.

I have guests booked for this month - moved in April 5th, departing May 5th. We set this up before covid-19 back in January so that they could have their condo renovated around the corner from me.

My Airbnb space is completely separate from the rest of the house - separate entrance and they are in no way interacting with me and my family except from a distance in the driveway or via text.

I’m not quite sure how to get state approval for them to keep staying here till the end of the month. I certainly don’t want a state cop showing up at the end of my driveway, to be fined, or to be prohibited from being a host in the future. Thoughts?

A stay of longer than 30 days is not considered short-term, so you’re safe by one day :slight_smile:

Lol unfortunately the letter specifies anything less than 31 days is considered a short-term rental. You’d think that my guests would be open to extending it by few days just to be on the safe side, but no, they are not being very understanding.

I’m going to hope that nothing comes of it and that they are focusing on much more pressing things.

Could you technically extend their stay the few necessary days for free?

As a follow-up, my current guests still can’t get back to China, so they wanted to extend to mid-June. I had one remaining reservation that overlapped with that, so I contacted Airbnb support to see if Airbnb could cancel it without me being penalized, losing my SuperHost status, etc. After a couple of hours, they got back to me, did what I asked, and thanked me for letting them continue to stay given the circumstances. I was pleasantly surprised by their response (especially since last time I opened a support chat it took them 72 hours to respond).

We are way over the 31-day limit at this point, so this is definitely a long-term stay that doesn’t conflict with the emergency state regulations. I normally do the cleaning myself, but after 3+ months I will spring for professionals whenever they finally leave :slight_smile: Thankful I’ve got 100% occupancy at 45% of my regular rate vs. 0% occupancy!