With over 5,000 Airbnb options in Boston alone, these short-term rentals offer extra space at a lower cost than your traditional hotel room, making them the preferred lodging option for families, working professionals, and single people when traveling to the city. If you’re a property owner and are interested in using Airbnb to maximize your real estate investment, we are here to break down some of the regulations and city ordinances to ensure you are fully informed about short-term rentals in Boston.

The Basics

Airbnb housing options and short-term rentals alike provide Boston residents economic opportunities and accommodations for visitors. The city-wide ordinance that Mayor Martin J. Walsh has put in place aims to track and regulate these properties to avoid monopolization of Boston’s housing market. Although short-term rentals are appealing for some situations, the impact it has on the wider real estate economy in metropolitan areas is significant. Many condominium associations oppose Airbnb rentals simply because they pose a security and safety risk by having what some would consider ‘strangers’ in their common space.

Boston residences

The Approach

The ordinance will classify short-term rentals by the following categories:

1. Limited Share Unit

A private bedroom or shared space within the owner’s primary residence, where the owner is present during the rental. A limited shared unit will have a $25/year registration fee associated with it.

2. Home Share Unit

A whole unit available for short-term rental in the owner’s primary residence, where the owner resides at least 9 out of 12 months. A home share unit will have a $100/year registration fee associated with it.

3. Investor Unit

A whole unit available for short-term rental within an entire dwelling that is not owner or tenant occupied. An investor unit will have a $500/year registration fee associated with it.

In addition, these regulations will protect occupants of the short-term rental properties by prohibiting properties that have outstanding housing, sanitary, building, fire, or zoning code violations.

What Investors Should Know

To ensure these regulations are followed, booking platforms, such as Airbnb, will have to provide the city of Boston with data reflecting the short-term rentals listed in the City and the occupants.

The Walsh Administration is actively working to add additional long-term housing for full-time residents in the city of Boston. Since this new housing plan was launched in January 2018, over 24,000 new units have been permitted. If you are actively seeking a new home for rent or purchase, check out our exclusive properties and contact us for a showing.

Short-Term Rentals in Somerville and Cambridge

Short-term rentals are permitted in Somerville and Cambridge, but just like the city of Boston, many regulations need to be followed.

Examples of some of these regulations include:

  • The rental must be less than seven days
  • An entire dwelling cannot be rented
  • The rental portion may not occupy more than 25% of gross floor area of the building
  • Only one unit in an entire dwelling can be used as a short-term rental
  • A Certificate of Occupancy for accessory tourist home use must be applied for and obtained from the City’s Inspectional Services Department
  • Where applicable, the building’s condominium association must approve short-term rentals


We’re here to help our clients feel supremely informed when making any real estate investment, particularly for those who may be looking for a second home that could be used for short-term rentals. Contact us today for us to provide more guidance and  to discuss your next real estate investment.  We look forward to the opportunity of working with you.