Tom Johnson owns and runs the Birchwood Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts. He says bookings have decreased due to competition from Airbnb rentals. Photo by Nancy Eve Cohen for NEPR

Tom Johnson owns and runs the Birchwood Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts. He says bookings have decreased due to competition from Airbnb rentals. Photo by Nancy Eve Cohen for NEPR

Residents of the Berkshires have rented out rooms in their homes for decades as a way to make extra income. But some innkeepers now say their room rentals are down because of competition from short-term rentals, like those found on Airbnb.

Massachusetts recently passed a law governing short-term rentals as a way to level the playing field. The new legislation comes at a time when there’s been a big jump in the number of Airbnb hosts in Berkshire County — an increase of nearly 56 percent since 2017.

Innkeepers at historic inns are waiting to see what the impact of the law will be.

On a recent tour, Lenox innkeeper Tom Johnson led the way into the library — a grand room in the Birchwood Inn, with a huge fireplace and windows looking out on pristine snow.

“This was added on. This is the new part of the house, added on in the late 1800s,” he said.

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