Airbnb sues New York City in effort to block short-term rental ordinance

Airbnb sued New York City today in an attempt to prevent the city’s officials from enforcing an ordinance that the app says will effectively end its business in the city.

The ordinance, Local Law 18, was drawn up last year, and the city could start enforcing the rules next month. If that goes through, it would require short-term rental hosts to register with the mayor’s office, explain who lives in the property, and comply with what Airbnb feels are oppressive regulations making the law a “de-facto ban” on short-term rentals. The company explained that only nine hosts have been approved after May 3, from a possible 38,500 Airbnb hosts.

The app explained that the rules were “punitive and burdensome,” describing them as impossible for hosts and a “maze” of red tape. Things were so complicated that it made renting extremely difficult even if the hosts were around all the time the guests were in the property.

Under the law, if hosts don’t adhere to the rules, they could be fined as much as $5,000. Airbnb could also be subjected to fines of up to $1,500. So far, three hosts have also launched lawsuits against the city.

“We have a record of working with governments around the world to put in place fair rules that protect home sharing and take into account the unique goals of each community, and litigation is never our preferred course of action,” Airbnb said in a statement. “Today’s filing comes only after exhausting all available paths for a sensible solution with the city.”

Officials don’t look like they will back down, explaining that the rules are there for the benefit of the city. “This administration is committed to protecting safety and community livability for residents, preserving permanent housing stock, and ensuring our hospitality sector can continue to recover and thrive,” officials said in a statement. “The rules governing short-term rentals, codified in both city and state law, have been clear for years.”

Photo: Tom Ritson/Unsplash

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