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Boston’s Airbnb regulations intended to curb short-term rentals

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Bid to stop de facto hotels

Mayor Marty Walsh is expected to introduce proposed regulations on January 22 that would curb the use of apartment-sharing sites such as Airbnb to rent out properties short-term.

The rules are meant to stop the proliferation of what are often called de facto hotels—multifamily buildings where tenancies are turned over so frequently they might as well be Holiday Inns.

Walsh’s proposal, according to the Globe’s Tim Logan, would restrict short-term rentals to 90 nights annually for owners who rent an entire apartment, condo, or house short-term. There would be less stringent rules for owners renting out a bedroom.

The Walsh administration says the move would free up some 2,000 housing units for longer-term leases. That would pry open a bit the city’s notoriously tight rental supply.

As for Airbnb itself, the apartment-sharing site is withholding judgement on Hizzoner’s proposal until it’s presented to the City Council. The site does note that more than 80 percent of its 3,000 Boston hosts rent out their primary residences, not units in de facto hotels.

If the council does pass Walsh’s proposal, then Boston would join Cambridge in implementing major restrictions on Airbnb-like rentals.

The Cambridge City Council last summer restricted such short-term rentals to owner-occupied units. The council also mandated that an owner can rent out his or her home in a multifamily building for short periods, plus one other unit in the same structure, provided that the building has fewer than five units.