ADCO to Support Revised Short-Term Rental Ordinance

Downtown neighborhood civic organizations this week reiterated their support for the mayor’s enhanced short-term rental ordinance.

The Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations (ADCO) this week released a follow-up study to its February piece, entitled “Why ADCO Fully Supports the Mayor’s Revised Short Term Ordinance.”

In this amended study, ADCO demonstrates quantitatively how the revisions to the original ordinance – notably eliminating investor units, limiting the definition of “corporate” rentals, requiring residency and capping the number of days for owner-adjactent units – will pull Boston out of its current spiral toward investor domination and exponential short-term rental growth.

“The Mayor’s revised ordinance has fixed almost all the problems in the original ordinance, and when adopted will go most of the way to fixing Boston’s short-term rental problem”, said Ford Cavallari, Chairman of ADCO. “Many good, hard-working Boston residents are using AirBnB to help make the rent or pay the mortgage, and that’s not limited by this ordinance. What is limited is the ability of out-of- town speculators to enter our City, outbid residents for leases by-the-dozen, and run large ‘fake hotel’ businesses which are not subject to the safety and labor regulations of legitimate hospitality operations.”

ADCO’s study highlights how the AirBnB growth rates in Boston have overtaken most other cities, and continue to grow exponentially. Whereas, prior to mid-2017, Boston added only about 100 short-term units per month, now it is adding many more than 200 per month. Just as Boston is high on investor concentration (three to four times as many as other cities), it has also become one of the fastest growing AirBnB cities in the past six months.

“The time for ‘pilot’ programs or overly-long ‘sunset’ provisions has long passed,” said ADCO Vice-Chairman Stephen Fox. “The ordinance as proposed, while reasonable, is far from the strongest in the country. We don’t need to weaken it any further via ‘grandfathering’ or ‘investor’ redefinition. Every day of delay and any loosening of investor or property-related restrictions will be costly to Boston.”

ADCO said its study also debunks several “fake” Boston statistics making the rounds. One stat, a Boston Globe-referenced break-even for short-term rental revenues to equal a yearly tenant, was 162 days, but using US Census median rent numbers, the number is reduced to just 65 days. In some neighborhoods that number is as low as 37 days.

Other findings from the ADCO research include:

  • 62-percent of Boston AirBnB listings are for entire homes/apartments, 85-percent in the downtown/ADCO neighborhoods – 60-70-percent of these are investor units.
  • Cities like Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville and Berlin, all with lower investor ownership than Boston, have already banned investor units entirely
  • Banning investor units will return between 1,800-2,000 units to Boston’s housing supply (as happened in Berlin and other cities which banned investors)
  • Owner-adjacent units, if capped at 120 days, will likely add only about 400 units to the short-term rental count. If not capped, the likely add could exceed 2,000 units

“Unfortunately, AirBnB ownership in Boston has become more of a business than a residential pursuit and has eroded the quality of life of Boston neighborhood residents – and that’s the reality,” continued Cavallari. “The Boston City Council should quickly adopt the solution most other large cities, like San Francisco, LA, Portland and New York City have, and eliminate all investor units in the nightly market.”

This new study is available at

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