Short-Term Rentals in Somerville
In May of 2019, the City Council passed a new ordinance for short-term rentals (for example, rooms or units rented on sites like AirBnB or HomeAway), which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The purpose of these regulations is to allow Somerville residents to operate short-term rental units, but to also ensure that those units remain part of the housing stock and do not negatively impact the neighborhood. Please note that if you choose to operate a short-term rental, it must remain in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and building codes. On January 26, 2023 the City Council amended the ordinance to require short-term rentals to register with the City to take effect on April 1, 2023.
What is a short-term rental?
A short-term rental is a room or unit that is rented for fewer than 28 consecutive days. This ordinance does not apply to month-to-month rentals. This ordinance does not allow for rooms or units to be rented by the hour.
Can any unit be a short-term rental?
No, the unit must be the operator’s primary residence.
Can I rent a unit that I do not live in, but is in a building that I live in?
No, you cannot offer an adjacent unit as a short-term rental. Only the unit that is your primary residence can be used as a short-term rental.
If I’m a renter, can I operate a short-term rental?
The ordinance allows a renter to operate a short-term rental. If you are a renter who wants to operate a short-term rental, you are required to submit a property owner approval affidavit as part of your application for registration with the City.
Do I need to register my short-term rental with the City?
Yes, the requirement to apply for and obtain a certificate of registration with the City is effective April 1, 2023.
When do I need to register by?
If your short-term rental was lawfully operating as of January 26, 2023, you must apply for a certificate of registration by June 30, 2023, and receive a certificate of registration from the City by September 28, 2023. You are allowed to continue operating prior to certification, provided your application is not denied or found to be otherwise in violation of the ordinance.
All other short-term rentals require a certificate of registration from the City prior to operation.
How do I apply for and obtain a certificate of registration with the City?
Submit your application through the Citizenserve portal. Please refer to the registration process guide, which is linked above.
Is there a limit on how many days out of the year that I can operate a short-term rental?
If you will be present, there is no limit on how many days you can rent a room or rooms in your primary residence. You can operate a short-term rental for up to 90 days per year if you will not be on the premises while the unit is being rented.
Is there a limit on how many people I can rent rooms or a unit to?
You can rent only to one group. That group can be up to 10 people or two people per guest bedroom, whichever is fewer.
Is there a limit on how many bedrooms I can rent in my unit?
There is no limit on how many bedrooms can be used as a short-term rental provided the other aspects of the ordinance are met.
Can I rent separate bedrooms or beds to separate customers as a short-term rental?
No, the ordinance prohibits the renting of separate bedrooms, beds, or spaces to separate customers as a short-term rental.
Can I have multiple listings for my short-term rental?
The ordinance allows for one listing per listing website, per residential unit. If you are using multiple listing websites for your short-term rental, those listings must be consistent so as to not offer separate bedrooms, beds, or spaces to separate groups.
What information do I need to provide to anyone renting from me?
You need to post a sign inside your short-term rental with the following:
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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