Boston Airbnb - Neighbor Notifications

Mailform is the easiest way to send neighbor notifications for your Boston, Massachusetts Airbnb or Short Term Rental

How to Notify Abutters about Short-Term Rental Registrations in Massachusetts

Updated 10.3.2019

Massachusetts Airbnb hosts have gone through a lot lately.

Just before the end of 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed a new bill that requires all homeowners who rent through Airbnb and similar companies to register their rentals. The new law also requires owners to pay the state hotel tax on their rental incomes, no matter what community they're in.

For Boston residents, this is the second law to affect Airbnb hosts in 2018 alone. In June, the city passed an ordinance requiring all property owners with short-term rentals to register with the city and notify abutters. 

That's government speak for “If you have an Airbnb, you have to tell the neighbors.”

It sounds simple enough, but every law has its fine print and you don't want to miss anything. Even violating a part of the law you didn't know about could put your Airbnb status at risk. To help keep you out of trouble, here is a breakdown of the law, who has to follow it, and how you can notify your abutters without spending all weekend doing it.


First Things First: Can Your Unit Be an Airbnb?

The City of Boston allows three different types of short-term rental units.

  1. Limited share units are part of the owner's primary residence. You have to be present during the rental if you have this type of unit. This costs $25 a year to operate.

  2. Home share units mean that you're renting out your entire home. You don't plan to be present, at least not for the entire time. This will cost you $200 a year.

  3. Owner-adjacent rentals are complete residential units in a two- or three-unit property. To qualify, you have to occupy one of the other units as your primary residence. This option also costs $200 a year.

To be eligible for any of these licenses, your property must NOT be:

As long as your property doesn't fall under any of these restricted categories, go ahead and start the registration process. Just know that it has multiple parts.


Abutters and More: The Letter of the Law

If you want to rent out an Airbnb in Boston, you have to register with the state of Massachusetts and the city itself. That means:

You have 30 days after receiving your license to notify all abutters.


What Is an Abutter?

As funny as the term might sound, your abutters are simply your closest neighbors. Specifically, they are the owners of any residential units within 300 feet of the unit you plan to offer for short-term rental. The City of Boston has a helpful tool that will determine the identity and contact information of your abutters, but it doesn't let you contact them directly. You have to do that on your own.


How to Send Airbnb Abutters Notifications

You can contact your abutters any way you'd like. Some people prefer the personal touch of knocking on neighbors' doors and explaining the issue.

That approach may be difficult if you have a lot of abutters, especially when you're not all at home at the same time. You could call them from your cell phone or work phone, but that can be awkward if you don't know them very well. In the city, you might even have abutters that you've never officially met.

Regular old-fashioned mail is the simplest way to notify your abutters, but doing it the traditional way can be time consuming. Not only do you have to address each envelope by hand, but you also have to go to a post office, buy stamps, find enough envelopes, remember how to work your printer—it's a whole process.

You can save all of that time and hassle by using a bulk mail service. Don't worry if you've never used one before—Mailform is one of the easiest bulk mail services on the market. Even if you have no experience, you can use it to send out your Airbnb abutters notifications for Massachusetts.

Why Choose Mailform?

Any investment in your Airbnb is an expense for you, so it's important to know what you get in return. Those benefits include:

Coding and API experience is not a required skill for an Airbnb host, so don't feel guilty if that last sentence makes your eyes cross. Mailform and its partners will take care of all of the computer business for you. You're already navigating the red tape of registering your rental with the city. You don't need to be learning to code at the same time.


How Do You Use Mailform?

Mailform is designed to be accessible for first-time bulk mailers. The only computer skills you need to have are uploading and downloading. Here's what you do:


Mailform will do everything else for you.

How to send an Abutter’s letter for Boston Airbnb hosts:

  1. Head over to the City of Boston Abutter’s Mailing List Generator:

  2. Enter your street nameEnter Your Street Name

  3. Select your unit address from the listSelect your address on the street

  4. Download the Mailing ListDownload the mailingList.csv File

  5. Grab and customize the Abutter’s letter template (thanks to @krishna_nr) for inspiration. The template is available here on Google Docs

  6. Upload the document to Mailform and hit “Next”

  7. Enter your return address and hit “Next”

  8. Upload the mailingList.csv file to Mailform and hit “Confirm”

  9. Choose from our various mailing options, and you’re all set!!!

Boston Airbnb Host Abutter's notification letter template

If you're looking for a Boston Abutter's notification template, please look here:


How Does Mailform Do It?

Mailform does a lot of bulk mailing—not just for Airbnb hosts like you, but also for big companies like Teespring and even TurboTax producer Intuit. An operation of that size requires partnerships with other companies, and Mailform has some great ones.

Each of these companies is instrumental in helping Mailform provide affordable bulk mailing services. Their expertise keeps you from having to mail all of your abutters individually.


Mailform and Airbnb—Your Short-Term Rental Partners

Mailform doesn't partner with Airbnb, but it's a great partner for you as a host. While Mailform and its partners help you with mailing your Airbnb abutters notifications for Massachusetts, Airbnb will help you navigate the rest of the registration process.


Airbnb wasn't always enthusiastic about supporting the ordinance. At first, Airbnb thought that the ordinance would require its personnel to take on the extra work of monitoring listings. The company filed a lawsuit and eventually reached an agreement with the city.


Now, Airbnb listings for Boston include a field where hosts have to enter their city registration number. If a listing doesn't have one, it gets taken down. Airbnb also provides Boston-based hosts with information about the ordinance and shares identifying data of all Boston listings with the city government.


Boston will also notify Airbnb if it has any ineligible listings posted. Check to make sure your property meets all requirements before you go through the work of making your listing, or Airbnb will take it down until you're compliant.


What's It All For?

Boston's regulation of short-term rentals is designed to protect neighborhoods and preserve affordable housing while still enabling state residents to benefit from the economic opportunities available through Airbnb and similar companies.

Mailform is happy to help you complete the required Airbnb abutters notifications for Massachusetts so that you can focus on being a great host.

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