New York acts to check Airbnb

New York acts to check Airbnb

Airbnb lost a high-profile battle in New York when the city’s housing committee voted to order the company to hand over information about hosts to a city enforcement agency.

A bill is expected to follow the vote as New York looks to crack down on the alleged widespread use of Airbnb by operators of unlicensed hotels

The decision means Airbnb will have to hand over the addresses of rental properties to New York’s Office of Special Enforcement, along with the names of hosts, information about how much of each property is available for rent, and whether it is a primary residence.

A similar rule introduced in San Francisco is estimated to have reduced Airbnb’s listings in the city by half.

Airbnb head of policy Chris Lehane denounced the planned bill, arguing: “New Yorkers will be subject to unchecked, aggressive harassment and privacy violations, rubber stamped by the city council.”

Airbnb suggested the city council had been swayed by hotel industry lobbying, with Lehane accusing the city council of acting to “protect the record profits of the hotel industry” and “protecting the privileged”.

Lehane left open the possibility that Airbnb would sue the city to overturn the ruling.

However, he also suggested that increased regulation in other cities had only produced a short-term hit to Airbnb’s business.

Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio and city council argue the policy is designed to preserve affordable housing stock in the city.

Rentals of less than 30 days without the owner present are prohibited in most New York apartment buildings.

Yet a report earlier this year suggested two-thirds of Airbnb’s income in New York comes from rentals which violate this rule.

New York is Airbnb’s biggest market in the US and its fifth biggest in the world.

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