Council to Consider Rules for Airbnb & Other Short Term Rentals at Upcoming Meeting

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Watertown City Hall

The Watertown City Council will hold a public hearing on Jan. 25 to discuss regulations for short-term home rentals, such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

Currently, such rentals are not allowed in Watertown, but dozens are listed on the Airbnb site. The Council has held multiple meetings over the past few years about short-term rentals, and in June 2021 they recommended that the Planning Board support a set of rules for short-term rentals.

The Planning Board considered the rules and sent them back to the Council for final approval.

Under the rules, short-term rentals will be allowed in Watertown, but operators will have to register with the Town and have the units inspected. Owners will also have to pay fees each time they rent their home, with the funds coming back to the City. Those violating rules will lose their right to rent units as short-term rentals for six months.

The renters would have to communicate to guests certain information, such as ways to exit in a emergency, trash and recycling rules, parking rules, and ways to contact the owner.

The owner must also keep detailed records of rentals for three years that would be made available to the Department of Community Development and Planning upon request.

Houses and apartments that are designated below market rate, income-restricted, or are subject
to housing or rental assistance are not eligible to be used as a short-term rental.

The City Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

7 thoughts on “Council to Consider Rules for Airbnb & Other Short Term Rentals at Upcoming Meeting

  1. City Council members and our state reps and senators should declare now, not later, how they feel about rent control, which is currently before the legislature.

  2. It would be helpful to clarify the following: Houses and apartments that are designated below market rate….

    How does one find out if one’s home is “designated below market rate?” This is unclear.

  3. It would behoove all to listen in and participate in this meeting. You can review the proposed rules on our Watertown website. These short-term rentals can happen and are happening in all areas of town. Right now there are no controls on them and if you have concerns about a lot of strangers frequently coming and going in your neighborhoods, you should probably give some feedback before or on the 25th before the Council approves these proposed rules. With already limited parking in most areas, additional cars associated with these rentals plus the homeowners cars at the same time could cause more parking problems. We need these rules to be right from the start as it will probably be difficult to amend them later.

  4. Watertcity is lost. Allowing boarding houses in the neighborhoods will be the final step that tips the live-in homeowner to absentee landlord rental ratio to under 50%. It will most definitely add tremendously to an already unbearable on street parking problem. Expect a lot more cars up on sidewalks and on front lawns. Run down unkept properties, additional curbside trash, worsening congested living, more late night disturbances, and further erosion of a sense of neighborhood community is what it will bring to many. This is the direction the Council has been heading in for years. Watercity ranked as the 8th most densely populated community in all of Massachusetts when its population was less than 33,000. Its population has grown by more than 10% since then and still the Council supports increasing housing where there is no more space for it. These short term rentals will bring nothing good to homeowners that live on their property in mixed single/multi-family home neighborhoods. I know that what ever rules are established for oversight, enforcement will be as lax as all the other ordinance enforcement is across the city. We cant hurt peoples feelings and enforce anything anymore. Who are you going to call when trash barrels or open trash are left behind on the streets for days? Who are you going to call when cars are parked across sidewalks and driveways? A quest to create more housing affordability is what we hear as the rationale for upcoming planned zoning law changes and exemptions. The new Affordable Housing Trust Board will be slipping in backyard in-law apartments on undersized lots before neighbors even know what has happened. It’s interesting how all of the added housing ends up being crammed into the same neighborhoods time after time while its always the same other neighborhoods that are exempt from it.

  5. We left our old neighborhood in Brighton because we got tired of a lot of the units changeover ever 9-12 months.

    Now you’re talking about changeover every few days weeks.

    We purposely bought a house in a neighborhood filled with single family homes to avoid this

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