Update 8/7/18: Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed into law a bill that cracks down on the number of illegal Airbnb listings in New York City. Taking effect in February 2019, the new law requires the company to disclose the names and addresses of its hosts. The information will be turned over to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
The New York City Council passed a bill on Wednesday that requires Airbnb and other home-sharing sites to provide the names and addresses of its hosts to the city. Under state law, it remains illegal in most buildings to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is there. Just hours before the council unanimously voted for this legislation, an Airbnb host from Brooklyn, Stanley Karol, sued the city in federal court for fining him $30,000 after speaking out against the bill. “I believe that the City has sought to silence me, by not only saddling me with massive fines, but also making me feel unsafe in my own home,” Karol said.
Karol, who owns a home in Sunset Park, says the city’s Office of Special Enforcement targeted him a week after he testified at a council hearing against the bill. The office fined him for not having a sprinkler system and fire alarm, failing to have proper exits and for having an illegally converted basement. According to the lawsuit, the summonses totaling $32,000 are “baseless.” Airbnb is financing the lawsuit.
The bill passed on Wednesday would make it easier for the city to regulate illegal units and to issue fines up to $1,500 for each listing not disclosed. After a similar bill passed in San Francisco, the number of listings dropped by half, according to the New York Times.
Airbnb argued the legislation unfairly targets New Yorkers who legally rent their apartments to make ends meet. The company also accused members of the City Council of succumbing to pressures from the hotel industry. Airbnb released a list of Council members with how much the industry had donated to their each of their campaigns.
“After taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry, we’re not surprised the City Council refused to meet with their own constituents who rely on home sharing to pay the bills and then voted to protect the profits of big hotels,” Liz DeBold Fusco, an Airbnb spokesperson, told the Times in a statement.
But the council said rent-regulated and long-term rentals are being taken off the market because landlords can profit more from short-term rentals. A report released earlier this year, funded by the hotel’s worker union, by McGill University found that 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.
Airbnb quickly disputed the methodology of the report and questioned the findings.
- Report: Airbnb listings removed up to 13,500 long-term rentals in NYC over past three years
- New hotline lets tenants report illegal Airbnb listings
- It would take the city 43 years to investigate all potentially illegal Airbnb listings