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The Ongoing Feud Between Airbnb And New York City, Explained


Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a new law regulating illegal short-term rentals in New York City.  

Under this legislation, which was originally proposed by lawmakers in June, the city will be able to track data on Airbnb users and hold hosts responsible for illegal short-term rental activity. Lawmakers are confident that this bill would free up rental units that could be designated as affordable, and help the city maintain safe living environments. 

"With this legislation, we are going to go after the most egregious operators, and we're going to help educate New Yorkers about the legality of short-term rentals in New York City," Councilwoman Carlina Rivera said.

The law will require Airbnb and online rental services to disclose personal information about hosts and their properties to the Office of Special Enforcement each month, the New York Times reported. To comply with this law, companies and occupants will need to submit the name of each host, physical address and phone number of each host in addition to the URL to each active host’s online profile. Companies will also need to inform the OSE how many days each property was rented, and all fees paid to the rental platform. 

Those who violate this law by failing to disclose listings will face at least $1,500 in fines. 


The legislation will also enforce a New York State law signed in 2016 making it illegal to advertise unoccupied apartment rentals under 30 days on websites and platforms like Airbnb. Failure to comply with this state law could cost violators up to $7,500.

The city's new legislation will ultimately redefine Airbnb’s business model and disrupt the way users communicate. The company has criticized the law using several mechanisms, including its own platform. In June, the company posted a blog entry accusing the bill’s sponsors of bias. 

The hotel industry, a group that has long been skeptical of Airbnb driving traditional hospitality assets out of business, has been one of the largest proponents of this law. 

"Many in the hotel industry, who are losing valuable tourism dollars from short-term rentals on websites such as Airbnb, argue that these units are not held accountable to the safe regulatory environment in areas such as fire and safety, amongst other concerns," Mazars partner Donald Bender said. 

Similar laws have been enforced in other cities, like San Francisco, Barcelona and Vancouver. When San Francisco cracked down on its short-term rental policy, Airbnb’s listings decreased by 50%. New York City, Airbnb’s most active market at 52,000 listings, could see a similar drop.

Airbnb has not backed down, but city council members have publically demystified these claims. 

"The city's not anti-Airbnb," District 4 Councilman Keith Powers said to ABC 7. "But we have concerns around affordability, quality of life and making sure people who are paying the rent and living in a neighborhood have peace and quiet."

Airbnb has begun to re-examine its business operations. As the legislation comes into focus over the coming months, the company has agreed to work alongside the city to develop a plan of action. 

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Mazars. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.