Fri | Dec 3, 2021

New rules over Airbnb to stem housing price hike

Published:Wednesday | April 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM


State lawmakers in New York proposed new rules Tuesday for regulating home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb that would replace regulations that cracked down on short-term rentals in New York City.

The legislation introduced in Albany would ban short-term rentals in affordable housing or rent-stabilised units and limit city residents to listing a single ­property on home-sharing sites.

It would also require Airbnb, HomeAway and other similar platforms to register the names of hosts with the state and collect occupancy taxes on behalf of the city and state.

It would replace current rules, under which people who rent out their entire home for fewer than 30 days can face hefty fines – though Airbnb’s opponents in New York say the rules are only intended to go after unscrupulous building owners who use home-sharing sites to operate de facto hotels.

The fight over regulating Airbnb has played out over several years in Albany as the San Francisco-based company and its hosts have pushed back against rules supported by a hotel workers’ union and critics who say short-term rentals reduce the availability of affordable housing.

The current rules treat New York City differently from other ­municipalities, creating a patchwork of rules that has made enforcement difficult.

The two Democrats sponsoring the bill – Senator James Skoufis and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol – say it balances the need for regulations with the reality that Airbnb is here to stay.

“We live in 2019,” said Skoufis, of Woodbury. “It’s foolish for anyone to put up invisible walls.”

Airbnb supports the new proposal, according to Chris LeHane, the company’s head of policy and communications, who joined lawmakers at Tuesday’s bill announcement.

Critics say they’ll continue to fight against efforts to water down the current rules, which they say are essential to preventing a further loss of affordable units in the nation’s largest city.

“We stand against this bill and will fight tooth and nail to ­protect our communities from predatory companies like Airbnb,” said Jonathan Westin, director of the group New York Communities for Change, which advocates for low- and moderate-income New York City residents.