Judge blocks NYC law that forces Airbnb to disclose names and addresses of hosts

January 3, 2019

In a win for Airbnb, a federal judge on Thursday blocked a New York City law aimed at curbing illegal short-term rentals, the New York Times reported. The law, signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last August and originally expected to take effect in February, would have required Airbnb and similar home-share companies to disclose the names and addresses of its hosts to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement monthly. Soon after, Airbnb filed a lawsuit against the city claiming an “extraordinary act of government overreach.” U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer granted the company’s request for a temporary injunction against the law, which he wrote was likely unconstitutional.

The law would have also required Airbnb to gather the names, addresses, and rental information about guests. And companies who don’t comply would face a $1,500 from the city for each listing. In his opinion, the judge wrote that Airbnb and HomeAway, a home-share who requested an injunction alongside Airbnb, would likely win their claim that the law violates the Fourth Amendment.

“The city has not cited any decision suggesting that the governmental appropriation of private business records on such a scale, unsupported by individualized suspicion or any tailored justification, qualifies as a reasonable search and seizure,” Engelmayer wrote.

The City Council first passed the law after a report found rent-regulated and long-term rentals in NYC were being taken off the market because landlords can profit more from short-term rentals.

The McGill University analysis, published last year, said Airbnb is responsible for the loss of between about 7,000 and 13,500 long-term rentals in the city while increasing the median long-term rent in the city by $380 per year. But Airbnb quickly disputed the methodology of the report, which was paid for by the Hotel Trades Council.

“The decision today is a huge win for Airbnb and its users, including the thousands of New Yorkers at risk of illegal surveillance who use Airbnb to help make ends meet,” Airbnb told the Times in a statement.


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