Second-home owners lose out in Airbnb regs

Boston's short-term rental ban on investors hurts those who saved for future

FOR MANY OF US, Boston is home. For others, our city is an exciting place to visit, full of rich history, beautiful neighborhoods, and fun things to do.

Our welcoming community brings a wide variety of travelers looking to experience all that Boston has to offer. These visitors bring in vital tourism dollars to small businesses, spurring economic growth and supporting jobs throughout our growing city. Short-term rentals are an important part of that tourism economy and provide an additional option distinct from hotels that caters to families looking to stay together under one roof.

While the benefits of short-term rentals are clear, THE Boston City Council has recently begun to regulate them. As they consider the best path forward, it’s important to remember the hardworking homeowners like myself who benefit from short-term rentals. Vacation rentals provide countless Boston residents with valuable supplemental income that allows them to stay in their homes. With this income, families will often invest back into their property, save up for retirement or college education, or simply make ends meet.

Personally, I worked hard and saved for almost 30 years so that I could purchase a condo in Boston, where my wife and I stay on occasion and plan to permanently retire to soon. Since I still work and live in the suburbs, our choice to retire to Boston hinged on our ability and right to rent it out on a short-term basis. I know many who have planned similarly, and if Mayor Marty Walsh signs the ban on whole-home units into law, it will threaten what so many local homeowners have worked towards for decades, whether it’s their children’s college education or their own retirement.

Moreover, it’s unfair to think of short-term rentals purely in the context of tourism. During the time I’ve rented out my place in the city, I’ve been able to offer my home to a family from New Hampshire who needed to travel frequently to Boston so their son could receive cancer treatment in one of our world-class medical facilities. Vacation rentals bring added value for the medical community, providing visitors with the comfort of a place that feels more like home, especially during difficult times.

Some have decried short-term rental owners for investing and taking up units within the city. Am I an investor? Technically, yes – I’ve invested into a home that I plan to retire to. Am I depleting the supply of rental housing in Boston? No. Short-term rentals both provide an affordable option for visitors who boost our economy and could not afford to visit the city otherwise. And as my experiences show, homeowners who rent on a short-term basis value this extra source of income and are thereby even more deeply committed to their neighborhood and communities.

To my Boston representatives: I urge you to listen to your constituents and protect the rights of property owners in Boston. If you move forward with the City Council’s new ordinance, you will unfairly punish responsible renters. Not allowing any short-term rentals for all “investors” is too far-reaching.

Meet the Author
The ability to rent short-term provides countless residents the opportunity to live and eventually retire in the city we dearly love and call home. Don’t take away that option from us.

Doug Gribbel lives in Wellesley and spends time in downtown Boston at his loft apartment part time. He rents his Boston residence as a vacation rental when he’s not there.