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Boston City Council Set To Vote On New Rules For Short-Term Rentals

The debate over short-term rentals in Boston is coming to a head.

Just days after the International Conference of Mayors came to town — whose chief sponsor was, ironically, Airbnb — the city council is expected to vote Wednesday on new regulations that would severely limit short-term rentals around the city.

Regulations put forward by Mayor Marty Walsh last month would ban properties operated by investors from being used as rentals and require registration with the city, plus annual fees. Backers say the new rules would put an estimated 2,000 apartments back on the market, and ease some of the housing crunch across the city.

But others, like Kama Cicero, a Boston real estate broker who also runs the short-term rental company STAR, argue it’s not so simple.

“If the regulations pass, it will put myself and all the other members of the Boston Host Alliance out of business,” Cicero, a founding member of the alliance whose company connects landlords with short-term renters, told Greater Boston.

“I think the problem is we’ve been classified as the investor unit and we’re not,” she added.

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, a supporter of stricter rules on the short-term rental market, who also appeared on Greater Boston, acknowledged while there might be consequences for some, new regulations are needed to protect Boston’s housing stock.

“We know that this set of regulations will have an impact in people being able to make less money in some cases and not being able to peruse certain business opportunities,” Wu told Greater Boston. “It’s a question of, I think, the risks that folks have taken when they chose to have — not in all cases, but in a lot of cases — taken on defacto, basically, hotel-like use in a place that is zoned as residential.”

A vote on the new regulations is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

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