Short term rentals in Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, come with some unique legal challenges. Such rentals, which most commonly occur through AirBnb, are not a traditional landlord-tenant relationship, but still come with various legal obligations.
The law is still developing, so this blog post may (and almost certainly will) need updating in the future.
Short Term Rentals and Zoning
Anyone interested in using their property as a short term rental needs to consult with their local zoning ordinances. Zoning regulates how property in a town or city may be used.
Some towns or cities in Massachusetts have heavily restricted short term rentals. In other places, such as Boston, short term rental owners need to register these units.
If you are considering a short term rental, check with your municipality and determine if any zoning relief is required. Do so before starting a short term rental (or considering buying a such a property). Some zoning relief, such as a variance, can take several months to obtain and is never a guarantee.
Short Term Rental Issues for Residential Tenancies
If you are an owner of residential property in Massachusetts, it’s a good idea to put in an addendum about whether your tenants can use their apartment as a short term rental.
While the law is not settled on this point, there is an argument to be made that, unless explicitly prohibited, short term rentals are not necessarily a violation of a standard lease agreement. Best to make this clear in any rental agreement.
Dealing With a Guest Who Won’t Leave
What happens if a short term rental guest won’t leave? Although not completely settled, it seems unlikely that such a guest would be considered a tenant, which would require a formal eviction proceeding.
In such a scenario, a short term rental owner could simply try to contact the local authorities, who may be willing to remove the holdover guest without a formal court hearing. If legal action becomes necessary, a civil action for trespass is a possibility, with a request for an immediate court order to have the occupant removed from the property.
If you need assistance with a short term rental, contact me for a consultation.