State Rep. Jay Livingstone of Beacon Hill will be focusing his legislative efforts on a number of bills this year, including the regulation of Airbnbs in the city.
Airbnb, which began in 2008, is a company that helps people rent short-term lodging in apartments, homes, and other residences through an online service.
“What’s happening, particularly in Beacon Hill, is some people have started to buy buildings and turn them in to Airbnbs that can be short-term rentals,” said Livingstone. “So basically those buildings can act as a hotel without any of the permits of a business operating in a residential district.”
Livingstone said at the state level, officials hope to enact a regulatory scheme to allow cities to have options on how they’re going to treat Airbnb rentals.
He believes that for densely populated areas like Beacon Hill, “people should need the permits of a hotel operating in a residential district before they can buy a building and basically act as a hotel.”
Livingstone said that he knows there are two properties on Beacon Hill where this type of rental operation has begun.
“I know of at least two, one on Chestnut Street and one on West Cedar Street,” he said.
Livingstone said the goal is to pass a state law that gives municipalities such as the city of Boston options on how to regulate Airbnbs.
“I would like to see Boston have the regulatory authority to require businesses that are going to act as hotels to get the permits that hotels need,” said Livingstone. “There is a full zoning process that they need to go through in order to do that, and it’s not happening with respect to these Airbnb buildings in Beacon Hill.”
He said his colleague in the House of Representatives, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, has filed a bill on the regulation of Airbnbs. Livingstone expects the bill will be debated in the House of Representatives next month.
“I’ve worked with Aaron on this bill,” said Livingstone. “He’s worked hard to build consensus on this issue and I think a lot of people see issues that have arisen because there is no regulatory scheme in place.”
Livingstone said he will also be focusing on legislation pertaining to Paid Family Leave income.
“The United States is one of three countries in the world not to offer Paid Family Leave to families,” he noted. “Especially as a father of a young child, I know that my wife and I were able to get by and stay home for a time at the start of our son’s life and how crucial that was for his development. So many families don’t have that option because they have to return to work for financial reasons and their children will miss out on that crucial early development with the parents. Many states have adopted Paid Family Leave policy, so I’ve been working the past couple of years to get Paid Family Leave legislation here. My colleague, Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford), has filed a bill on Paid Family Leave.”