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City of Cambridge, Mass, STR Regulation, enforcement and taxes


The city of Cambridge last year wrote up and enacted regulation to limit the proliferation of Airbnb to help control the housing stock. The regulation says that only owner-occupied or owner-adjacent units (in 2, 3 or 4 family homes) can be rented out as STRs. This was done with some fanfare and some people signed up and went through the process of getting their units inspected and registered. I am in support of this process, as I think that investors buying up properties for the sole purpose o converting them into STRs is damaging to the fabric of a city. However, turns out I am in the vast minority of Airbnb hosts in this city, as the compliance to this rule is approximately 10% according to my sources within city government. Regulation has no teeth, and is unenforceable.

OK- so now the state is imposing a tax (5.7% state + 6% city + 3% community + 2.75% Convention center ) which totals a hefty 18% tax. But, the only hosts who are going to be paying this tax are the 10% that have registered and play by the rules, whilst the remainder will get a price advantage because they are not burdening their guests with the 18% tax.

Wondering if this community has any ideas on how to handle this situation either by:

  1. Unregistering from the city database (not entirely serious suggestion)
  2. Figuring out how to convince the city to enforce the rules that they have laid out and leveling the playing field.
  3. Any other ideas?

Start turning in the cheaters to the city.


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