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Short-Term Rental Update: Airbnb argues about City of Boston's short-term rental ordinance; AirDNA expands footprint of rental data; Google's hotel search adds short-term rentals

Airbnb Back in Court
("New rules don’t seem to be bringing Boston many short-term rental applications," Curbed - Boston on Apr 10)
Earlier this week, Airbnb was in court arguing that the City of Boston’s short-term rental ordinance that took effect in January is “draconian” and violates the Communications Decency Act. A Massachusetts federal judge questioned why the City of Boston shouldn’t be free to impose restrictions on Airbnb’s units as the City sees fit. The judge has yet to rule on the motion. As always, we will continue to monitor.

AirDNA Expands Footprint of Rental Data
("AirDNA announces integration of HomeAway data," Short Term Rentalz on Mar 25, 2019)
AirDNA is a company that seeks to provide greater visibility into the short-term rental market as a means to empower hosts to optimize listings and competitively price units through their MarketMinder tool. They offer insight into specific neighborhoods and individual vacation rental properties, including RevPAR, occupancy, rental revenue and booking lead times. AirDNA just added 1.5 million HomeAway listings, greatly expanding their reach into short-term rental market conditions.

Google’s Hotel Search Adds Short-Term Rentals
("Google Enhances Hotel Search With Vacation Rentals," on Mar 27, 2019) 
Google users will see a new option for Google’s Hotel Search on the mobile app (and the option is expected to be added to the desktop version later this month) to filter for short-term rentals. In some circumstances, users will be able to book hotels and short-term rentals directly and pay using Google Pay. This kind of integration to consolidate services and create efficiencies for travelers is the kind of trend that we expect will only continue to grow in the hospitality industry.

Other news:

Industry News

After outcry, Airbnb changes policy to allow West Bank listings
United Press International on Apr 10, 2019
Airbnb said it will begin allowing Israelis living in the West Bank to list their homes for short-term rental, reversing an earlier decision that sparked lawsuits and controversy. In a statement, Airbnb said proceeds from the listings will be donated to a non-profit organization that's dedicated to humanitarian aid in a different part of the world, not associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Executive rentals are collateral damage in backlash against Airbnb
680 News - Canada - Business News on Mar 31, 2019
After first disrupting the hotel business industry, shared rental services like Airbnb are making life difficult for Canada’s corporate housing sector. Condominium buildings across the country are increasingly shutting their doors to companies that help find temporary accommodations for executives on short-term work projects or their families, following some well-publicized disruptions caused by overnight guests.

Regulations & Legal Developments

Denver Unveils New Rules for Short-Term Rentals 
Westword on Apr 10, 2019
The City of Denver unveils new rules for short-term rentals. “We are striking the right balance with sensible regulations that maximize the benefits of home sharing and welcome tourists to our city while minimizing the negative impacts on neighborhoods,” said Ashley Kilroy, executive director of Denver Excise and Licenses, in a statement announcing the changes. 

State lawmakers eye regulations for short-term rentals
The Times Union - Breaking News on Apr 9, 2019
An effort to regulate short-term rentals in New York could be worth more than $100 million annually for state and local governments just from Airbnb properties. The revenue would come from a renewed push by state lawmakers in Albany to create a statewide regulatory framework for these rentals. The legislation would authorize online platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway to collect taxes on guest stays at properties listed on their platforms, including sales, occupancy and hotel taxes. These companies are currently only allowed to make tax remittance deals with counties outside of New York City.

Judge Questions Why Boston Can't Regulate Airbnb 
Law360 - Real Estate on Apr 8, 2019
A Massachusetts federal judge on Monday asked why the city of Boston shouldn't be free to impose restrictions on Airbnb Inc. short-term rental units as it sees fit, pushing back on the company's attempt to block the "draconian" ordinance it says violates the Communications Decency Act.

Emotions high as House committee weighs short-term rental rules
Statesman on Apr 4, 2019
The usual arguments for and against short-term rentals played out Thursday before a Texas House committee...Proposed bills filed this session by state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, and state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, would halt that crackdown by overturning regulations such as those imposed by Austin and requiring cities to permit short-term rentals. 

Airbnb tells judge it missed hosts linked to illegal New York hotels 
Business Standard - Latest News on Mar 30, 2019
Airbnb Inc. said there were more hosts associated with illegal hotels in New York City than the company told a judge last year. Airbnb made the admission in a letter Friday to U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, who’s overseeing a lawsuit by home-sharing firms seeking to nullify a New York law requiring them to turn over renter data.

Gov. Justice Signs Home Sharing Protection Bill Into Law
The Huntington News on Mar 28, 2019
Virginia Governor Jim Justice for signed SB 4, a bill that gives cities the ability to opt into a Home Rule Program that, among other things, protects the rights of West Virginia homeowners to share their homes as vacation rentels or short-term rentals.

Florida House targets Airbnb as it moves to preempt local rules on home rentals
Sun Sentinel on Mar 27, 2019
Lawmakers took the first step Tuesday to invalidate all local laws governing short term rentals, sparking a battle over how home rental companies such as Airbnb and VRBO should be regulated.


Hawaiian legislators approve plans to tax Airbnb and other short-term rentals
USA Today - Travel News on Apr 10, 2019
Hawaii's House and Senate both approved separate bills on Tuesday and will combine them later this month. Senators and representatives are expected to meet later this month to discuss differences. Attempts to enact similar measures have failed in Hawaii in past years, but lawmakers said they believe they have a better chance of succeeding this time. If passed, the law would require the short-term rental website to collect and pay taxes on behalf of property hosts. 

Stay and Pay: Indiana to collect sales tax on short-term rentals for first time 
News and Tribune on Apr 6, 2019
Indiana is one of three states that currently doesn't charge a sales tax for online short-term rental platforms, so how that levy will be collected and remitted is still up in the air. The law that will go into effect this summer stipulates that sales is tax to be collected by a facilitator, like Airbnb, if the rental transpired on such a platform, or the property owner if the property owner makes the transaction directly. 

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We regularly update clients about changes in real estate law and on industry trends. This includes briefing clients on legislative proposals in the federal tax, housing and other legal areas affecting their businesses. Staying current enables you to anticipate and prevent legal problems as well as capitalize on new developments.
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