Thousands of Boston Airbnb listings pulled amid new regulations

BOSTON — Weeks after the Boston City Council approved a new law regulating short-term rentals, Airbnb pulled thousands of listings from their website to comply.

Last month, Airbnb boasted more than 6,000 listings in Boston. The city says as of Friday, they've only applied for registration of just over 1,800 and just 775 have been approved.

"When you're trying to take advantage of a loophole in city regulations, it's going to catch up with you and that's what happened here," said Ford Cavallari, Association of Downtown Civic Organizations.

Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes spoke with Cavallari by phone on Friday. He was a part of a coalition of state and local groups looking to address affordable housing shortages due to a boom of short-term rentals in the last five years.

Airbnb would not confirm the exact number of listings they pulled from the site, but in a statement, a spokesperson told us per the legal settlement they have with the city, they're removing all listings from the platform that don't display a license number.

Airbnb settled with the city last August after filing suit over sharing host data.

"I am in full agreement that regulations need to be put in place, but they needed to look at the whole picture," said Kama Cicero, Stars Boston.

Cicero is the founder of Stars, a short-term rental company for medical tourism. She says the regulation, aimed at keeping large companies and investors from monopolizing the housing market, is killing her small business managing under 100 unites.

"Right now we have a lot of vacancies, and we're scared, and our employees are scared," said Cicero.

Cavallari says he's not optimistic the units back on the rental market this week will stay on the market.

Boston's new crackdown is part of a wave of similar laws proposed in cities around the world.

"What we've seen in other cities is there's often a rebound effect," said Cavallari. "Many will return by the end of January."

So what does this all mean for holiday tourism in Boston? City leaders and housing advocates say the data suggest the removal of even a few thousand short-term rental listings will have little impact on a city of this scale.

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