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Parts of Boston’s short-term rental ordinance blocked by judge

Judge blocks two provisions of ordinance

Last year, short-term rental giant Airbnb sued the city of Boston in federal court over the city’s short-term rental ordinance, claiming that it requires the site (and similar sites) to police its platform far more than it does now and share confidential user information with the city.

The city of Boston has now been blocked from enacting two provisions of that short-term rental ordinance.

U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin declared in a motion in a lawsuit filed by Airbnb last November that Boston can’t eject a short-term rental service from the city as punishment for posting and failing to remove listings that violate the ordinance.

According to reporting in the Boston Globe, the judge also ruled that Boston can’t require short-term rental services to report to the city how many days each month a rental is occupied, writing that “Airbnb would be irreparably harmed by having to comply with an unconstitutional requirement that it disclose private business information.”

The judge also ruled that he will not block the city of Boston from levying a $300 daily penalty each time a rental service accepts a fee on a booking for an ineligible unit, noting that similar ordinances in San Francisco and Santa Monica have “survived nearly identical legal challenges.”

“We appreciate the Court’s decision and its recognition of the protections afforded by established federal law as to platform immunity and privacy,” Airbnb said in a statement on the matter. “We hope to continue working with the City to find a path forward for home sharing and for our community here in Boston.”


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