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Airbnb Settles Suit With Boston Over Data Sharing, Illegal Listings

The city of Boston and Airbnb have reached an agreement over a city ordinance that requires short-term rental companies to share data and crack down on illegal listings.

Airbnb sued Boston in federal court last fall over what it called "draconian" regulations. The company objected to being compelled to share data with the city and argued that hosts are responsible for their own listings. Airbnb also asserted the city regulation would force it to monitor and remove listings — imposing a burden on the company.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will add a function to its website that asks hosts to enter their city-issued registration number starting on Sept. 1. Hosts that do not register with the city by Dec. 1 will have their listings taken down. Registration is required by the ordinance.

The city will now have the power to notify Aibnb of illegal listings and have them removed from the company's website.

Airbnb will also now share listing data with the city, including the zip code, registration number, URL, the type of rental unit and the Airbnb host ID.

Under the city's rules, hosts must actually live in any residence they are renting out on a short-term basis. So-called "investor units" are banned.

In a statement, Mayor Marty Walsh said his goal has been to strike a balance between preserving housing stock in the city while allowing residents to benefit from the growing short-term rental industry.

"I'm pleased we were able to reach a settlement with Airbnb, and continue our important work ensuring that Boston remains a home for all residents," Walsh said.

In a statement, an Airbnb spokesperson said the company's goal was to create a pathway for the short-term rental industry in Boston.

"With this settlement agreement, that is what we have collectively achieved, establishing an effective regulatory framework for compliance," the spokesperson said.

The settlement comes more than a year after the city first passed regulations on short-term rentals. The new rules took effect on Jan. 1, but the provisions on data-sharing and illegal listings had been held up in court due to the lawsuit.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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