Marty Walsh eyes city housing restrictions
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is proposing restrictions on web-based room rentals and a city councilor is calling for a hearing on potential taxes for foreign speculators and developers who flip housing — but a real estate expert said it would be a “serious mistake” to start taxing foreign investment.
Walsh wants to require landlords of short-term rentals, such as those listed on Airbnb, to pay yearly fees to the city and limit how often they can rent out their properties — allowing someone who lives in a home to rent out a room all year, while limiting absentee landlords to 90 days a year of short-term rentals. The law would also ban short-term rentals for houses that rack up multiple noise violations over a six-month period.
“Preserving Boston’s affordability is key to keeping our communities stable and ensuring every person and family who wants to live here can afford to do so,” Walsh said in a statement. “This ordinance is an important step towards our goal of reducing housing costs by creating disincentives to taking units off the market for use as short-term rentals.”
Meanwhile, East Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards is calling for a hearing to discuss rising housing costs and the possibility of various taxes to slow it, including taxes on flipping properties and foreign speculation, luxury transfer fees and condo conversion caps. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.
David Begelfer, CEO of the real estate association NAIOP Massachusetts, said foreign investment has dominated development in core downtown areas and he is wary of any potential restrictions.
“It’d be a serious mistake for the city to get involved in foreign investment,” Begelfer said, adding a market perceived as “hostile” could encourage investors to go elsewhere. “It’s one thing to get involved with Airbnb but foreign investment has been very good for the city.”
But while Edwards said she wants to support developers looking to benefit the community while they make profits, she is not worried about driving foreign investment away.
“My concern is that foreign investment is not for the people who live here or for the city’s future, it’s for their immediate pockets,” Edwards said. “How much money they can make is not something that con- cerns me.”