Massachusetts law about the gig or sharing economy

State and local laws, regulations, cases, web and print sources on gig economy, ride sharing, and short-term rental services like Airbnb, VRBO, Uber, Lyft, and the like.

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Table of Contents

In general

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. 

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.

Working for yourself : law & taxes for independent contractors, freelancers & gig workers of all types by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available here with library card).

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 By-laws.

Selected case law

Airbnb v. City of Boston, U.S. Dist. Ct. Mass. 386 F.Supp.3d 113 (2019)
Airbnb, Inc. seeks a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of certain provisions in a City of Boston ordinance aimed at regulating short-term residential rentals in Boston.

Heath-Latson v. Styller, 487 Mass. 581 (2021)
In a civil action alleging, inter alia, wrongful death arising from the shooting of the plaintiff's decedent at a house party held by third parties at the defendant's house, which they had rented for the weekend, the judge properly granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint, where the complaint alleged no facts suggesting that the defendant had a duty to protect the decedent from the wrongdoing of a third party…

Styller v. Lynn Zoning Board of Appeals, 487 Mass. 588 (2021)
This court concluded that the plaintiff's use of his property, which was zoned for single-family residential use, for occasional short-term rentals did not qualify as one of the “additional” uses allowed under the town's zoning bylaw, where the short-term rental could not be categorized as lodging home use or tourist home use; further, the plaintiff's use of the property for short-term rentals did not constitute a permissible primary use, where the town's zoning board of appeals clearly and unambiguously excluded purely transient uses of property in the single-residence zoning district in which the property was situated.

Web sources

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, Mass. 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,, May 28, 2019.
Explains key components of the law governing short term rentals.

Print sources

AirBNBs, MCLE, 2019.

Every Airbnb host's tax guide, by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2023. (eBook available here with library card).

What all real estate lawyers need to know about short-term rentals, MCLE, 2021.

Ride sharing

Massachusetts laws

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

MGL c.175, § 228 Transportation network drivers insurance requirements (rideshare and gig drivers); minimum insurance requirements, may be held by the company, driver or combination

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)
This court concluded that the terms and conditions contained in the defendants' cellular telephone application did not constitute an enforceable online contract with the plaintiffs, where there was no reasonable notice to the plaintiffs of the terms (i.e., reasonable users might not understand that, by simply signing up for future services over the Internet, they had entered into a significant contractual relationship governed by wide-ranging terms of use), and where the interface obscured the manifestation of assent to those terms (i.e., a user could create an account without ever affirmatively stating that he or she had agreed to the terms and conditions or even viewing them).

Mass. Port Authority v. Turo, Inc., 487 Mass. 235 (2021)
The first numbered paragraph of the order currently prohibits Turo from '[l]isting or permitting motor vehicles to be listed on Turo's website, or by means of any other Turo application, as available for pickup or drop-off at Logan Airport.' On its face, the language “or permitting motor vehicles to be listed” could be understood to obligate Turo to monitor and potentially to remove its hosts’ noncompliant content, an obligation that would appear to be prohibited by the CDA. In order to preclude any possible confusion, the first numbered paragraph of the injunction must be modified to affirmatively restrain only Turo's conduct.

Web sources

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

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

Rideshare company drivers, Mass. 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   for Massachusetts law about the gig or sharing economy

Last updated: February 21, 2024

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