Massachusetts to publish "registry" of all Airbnb hosts

The Massachusetts war on the gig industry continues unabated this month with yet another shot across the bow at Airbnb. Both the state government and particularly the city of Boston have been going after the room rental service (along with ride-sharing outfits such as Uber and Lyft) with great zeal for years now, but their latest move is particularly troubling.

Having already put crippling limits on how often people can legally rent out their own spare bedroom space for extra money, the state is now poised to gather and publish a public registry of everyone engaging in short-term rentals. And we all know what happens if people publish “lists” (including names and addresses) of people engaged in activities which liberals oppose. (Boston Globe)

Lawmakers Monday sent Governor Charlie Baker a bill that would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to post the street addresses of all short-term rentals on a public database.

The registry is part of sweeping legislation passed by both the House and Senate to tax and regulate the booming business of renting homes nightly through popular websites such as Air-bnb.

Supporters of a public registry say it would allow people to find out whether their neighbors are renting their homes short term and also help cities and towns better gauge the level of such rental activity.

The Democrats who pushed this through were struggling to come up with any sort of explanation as to why such a public registry would be required or even useful to the public. All they came up with was a claim that it would “allow people to find out whether their neighbors are renting their homes short term.” The more honest ones among them admitted that the registry was basically just a way to make it easier for them to enforce the needless, vindictive restrictions they placed on the service already.

First of all, what business is it of anyone’s if a person is legally renting out an extra room in their house or apartment? I notice that the regulation doesn’t apply to anyone who is legally subletting for longer periods. Nor does anyone seem to be concerned with making sure there’s a list of all the locations of hotels, motels and other commercial rental facilities.

This is all about intimidation. The liberals in charge of the state government have been running a PR campaign against Airbnb to gin up public resentment and turn it into a partisan, Left vs Right issue. (In reality, it’s an opportunity for lower-income residents to make some extra money to get by, but don’t ask the state government to talk about that.) And now that they have some of the neighbors up in arms over the “evils” of Airbnb, they’ll publish a list of every host’s name, address and other contact information so the mob can harass them or worse.

This is some serious hardball the state legislature is playing, all in the name of appeasing the hotel industry lobbyists. They’re the ones who are behind all of this, can’t stand the competition and donate heavily to the Democrats. But who will be held accountable if some maniac comes and burns down some host’s house? Don’t expect the Governor to take responsibility.