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Massachusetts law about the gig or sharing economy

A compilation of information on state and local regulation of gig , sharing, and short-term rental services like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and the like, by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

COVID-19

Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Mass. Department of Unemployment Assistance
"Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits."

What rideshare, taxi, limo, and other passenger drivers-for-hire need to know about COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control
Information and guidance on driving passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In general

Selected Case Law

Lawson v. Grubhub, US Dist. Ct. California, 302 F.Supp.3d 1071, 2018.
Court found that Grubhub driver was an independent contractor.

Web sources

The rights of workers in the "gig" economy and Part 2, Spiggle Law Firm.
While not specific to Massachusetts, these blog posts provide general information on legal issues for gig workers to consider. 

Working for yourself: law & taxes for independent contractors, Nolo, 2019
"[I]ntended for those self-employed people who provide personal services…It includes those who work in the gig economy and sell their services through online hiring platforms like Uber, Upwork, Freelancer, and many others." Requires library card for access.

Print Sources

Employee benefits for the contingent workforce, Tax Management, 2016.
“[A]ddresses the employee benefits-related questions and issues that arise in connection with the employment of contingent or alternative workers.”

Practicing law in the sharing economy : helping people build cooperatives, social enterprise, and local sustainable economies, by Janelle Orsi, American Bar Assn, 2012.
Information on drafting agreements, navigating employment regulations, managing risk, and other legal issues pertaining to the sharing economy.

Home sharing & short-term rentals

14 days/yr or fewer are exempt

Massachusetts law

MGL c.62C, § 16(g 1/2) Filing tax returns for short-term rentals

MGL c.64G Room excise tax, including short-term rentals. Properties rented fewer than 14 days per year are exempt under § 3.

MGL c.175, § 4F Liability insurance for short-term rentals

Massachusetts regulations

400 CMR 4 Public registry of lodging operators

830 CMR 62G Room occupancy excise. Regulates taxes for short-term rentals

City ordinances

Boston: An Ordinance allowing short-term residential rentals in the city of Boston

Cambridge: Zoning Ordinance 4.60 Short-term rentals

Somerville: General guidelines for short term rental (Airbnb) listings in Somerville. Includes links to the ordinance and FAQs.

For other cities and towns, you can search ordinances by town at City and Town Ordinances and Bylaws.

Selected case law

Airbnb v. City of Boston, U.S. Dist. Ct. Mass. 386 F.Supp.3d 113 (2019)
Ongoing challenge to the Boston ordinance

Styller v. Aylward, et al, Land Court Misc-16-000757 (2018)
Short term rentals of residential property as an Airbnb "without a special permit are, and always have been, in violation of the applicable Lynnfield zoning bylaws, and have no 'grandfathered' protection."

Web sources

Every Airbnb host's tax guide, Stephen Fishman. Nolo, 2020.
Requires free library card for access

New short-term rental law effective in Massachusetts this summer, Boston Real Estate Times, April 5, 2019.
Provides important basic facts on the law effective July 1, 2019.

Register a short-term rental, City of Cambridge.
Provides the procedure and necessary forms for registering a unit as a short-term rental.

Room occupancy frequently asked questions, Dept. of Revenue.
Provides information on the law that expanded room occupancy excise to include short-term rentals and changes that apply to traditional lodging establishments.

Short-term rentals, Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors, September 2020.
Includes an overview of the law, the latest updates, major provisions of the law, and more.

What you need to know about Massachusetts' new law: navigating short term rentals, BusinessWest.com, May 28, 2019.
Explains key components of the law governing short term rentals.

Print sources

AirBNBs, MCLE, 2019

Ride sharing

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.159A-1/2 Transportation network companies (ride sharing companies)

Massachusetts regulations

220 CMR 274 Transportation network companies

540 CMR 30 Annual inspection of transportation network company (TNC) vehicles

Selected case law

Boston Taxi Owners Association, Inc. v. City of Boston, U.S. Dist. Ct. Mass, 223 F.Supp.3d 119 (2016)
M.G.L. c. 159A-1/2 "preempts local regulation of [transportation networking companies].”

Kauders v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 486 Mass. 557 (2020)
The terms and condition
s in the Uber app did not constitute an enforceable online contract, where there was no reasonable notice, and a user could create an account without ever stating that he or she had agreed to the terms and conditions or even viewing them.

Web sources

Department of Public Utilities Transportation Network Company Division
Agency responsible for overseeing rideshare companies and drivers in Mass.

Rideshare companies, Dept. of Public Utilities.
Learn how Massachusetts regulates rideshare companies or transportation network companies (TNCs)

Rideshare company drivers, Dept. of Public Utilities.
Learn how Massachusetts regulates the drivers using rideshare companies' or transportation network companies' (TNCs) digital network or platform.

Ride App/TNC at Logan Airport, Massport. 
Includes rules and information for drivers and passengers at Logan Airport, including information about new pick up locations. 

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: April 8, 2021
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