New state rental law has Wareham Selectmen concerned

Jan 8, 2019

A new state law targeting short term rental services such as Airbnb has Selectmen nervous it may hurt Wareham renters.

On Tuesday, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan told board members the new law takes effect in July.

The law, signed last month by Gov. Charlie Baker, imposes a 5.7 percent lodging tax on services such as Airbnb. The online marketplace connects people looking to rent rooms or homes with travelers.

Before the new law, Airbnb was able to provide travelers with deals in part because they were’t subject to the same taxes. Now, those looking to rent rooms or private homes will have to pay the same tax. The law will not affect anyone who rents a room or home for 14 days a year or less.

Selectmen said that the new tax may reduce the number of people coming to town. Wareham’s population increases from roughly 20,000 to nearly 40,000 in summer.

“We live off of rental people,” said Selectman Patrick Tropeano. “This is not a good thing.”

Sullivan was wary of the new law, but noted it was difficult to say how it would affect Wareham economically.

“The repercussions have yet to be seen,” said Sullivan. “I have no projections on this whatsoever.”