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Court Halts Law Aimed At Clamping Down On Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb Vice President of Trips Joe Zadeh

In a major win for short-term rental provider Airbnb, a federal judge has blocked a New York City law that would force the home-sharing site to hand over hosts' listing information to authorities.

The law was set to take effect next month, but Judge Paul Engelmayer of United States District Court in Manhattan issued a preliminary injunction requested by Airbnb and fellow home-share site HomeAway, the New York Times reports. The law can’t go ahead until the issue is dealt with through litigation. The judge found that the companies would likely win in their claim that the law was unconstitutional as it could run up against Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.

“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,” the judge wrote in his 12-page decision, according to the Times.

Under the law, passed by city council in July, services like Airbnb and HomeAway would be forced to give the names and addresses of hosts to the city’s Office of Special Enforcement each month. They also needed to tell the city if the listing is for just a room or an entire apartment.

Failing to do so would result in fines of up to $1,500 to the service, the New York Times reported at the time, although it was originally expected to be $25K. 

“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,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in emailed statement.

“The court today recognized the fundamental importance of New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to privacy and the sanctity of their own homes.”

The city has argued that providers like Airbnb allow apartments to be turned into unsafe lodgings and are worsening the city’s affordability crisis by pushing up rents.

Related Topics: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Airbnb NYC