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Airbnb Sues New York City Over Short-Term Rental Law, Claiming $85M In Damages

Airbnb listings in New York City

Airbnb is suing New York City, claiming regulations that require short-term rentals to be formally registered is forcing it to remove listings from the platform and costing it millions.

Under New York’s Local Law 18, starting in July, short-term rental platforms will no longer be able to process payments from units unless they’ve been registered with the city, Crain’s New York Business reports. Just 29 units have successfully registered with the Office of Special Enforcement, which set up an application portal in March.

As of May 3, nine Airbnb units were successfully registered, Airbnb's attorney told Crain's. That figure represents 0.05% of the $85M attached to Airbnb's New York listings, according to two lawsuits the company filed against the city this week.

One suit is being led by Airbnb itself, and the other from two hosts, claiming the laws essentially ban the short-term rentals in the city and and breaches previous agreements. Airbnb is asking the court for an interim injunction on the law while the case is considered.

“Airbnb will have to cancel thousands of registrations,” Airbnb attorney Karen Dunn told Crain’s. “New York City will be the Grinch who stole summer.”

There were 419 applications made to the Office of Special Enforcement as of the last day in May, with many still under review or requiring more information from hosts. Airbnb and New York have been at loggerheads for years, with opponents of the platform long arguing short-term rentals have worsened the housing crisis as landlords have sought higher profits available through short-term rentals in place of long-term leases. New York is one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in the U.S., and Local Law 18 would introduce some of the toughest rules for short-term rentals in the country.

New York is expecting a bumper travel season this summer, with 63 million visitors expected to come to the city in 2023, a 95% recovery on pre-pandemic tourism levels.