Airbnb files suit against Schneiderman, de Blasio

by Ben Pena October 23, 2016, 1:03
Airbnb files suit against Schneiderman, de Blasio

Legislation awaiting action by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo would authorize fines of up to $7,500 for listings that violate a 2010 state law forbidding rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present. In Los Angeles, the city council is moving toward new rules that would legalize some rentals of less than 30 days but also require Airbnb to turn over significant amounts of data.

NY state is one of the most lucrative markets for rental site Airbnb, with some 46,000 people offering lodging online.

The new law, passed by the state legislature in June, is bad news for Airbnb, a San-Francisco based company that enjoys New Yorker hospitality.

In New York City, the state Attorney General found that, between 2010 and 2014, more than 300,000 Airbnb reservations violated the law, representing about $304 million in booking revenue, with about $40 million of that going to Airbnb. "In order to be assured of avoiding liability, including potential criminal prosecution, Airbnb would be required to screen and review every listing a host seeks to publish".

Airbnb took a gamble in NY - and discovered it wasn't holding the right cards. In a statement, NY state assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal said the new law, "will help to keep housing available and affordable for thousands of hardworking New Yorkers and their families".

The company has been arguing that its service helps almost 50,000 New Yorkers "make ends meet".

Airbnb has been blamed for rising rents in big cities like NY and San Francisco, but the company claims that home-sharing helps thousands of middle class people get by.

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Councilmembers and advocates have long argued that Airbnb should be transparent about New Yorkers who use the platform to operate illegal hotels. Airbnb is now involved in litigation in San Francisco, Santa Monica and Anaheim, California.

Supporters of the measure said many Airbnb rentals are already prohibited under that law.

Airbnb said it will contest the law in a lawsuit. "Airbnb's legal claims amount to nothing more than empty threats", she stated.

"We know Airbnb wants to talk about tech innovation, home-sharing models, but our focus is protecting hard-working families and affordable housing here in this city", Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the Airbnb bill, said Wednesday.

Those low-priced stays in Airbnb listings are costly for the state. It applies only to apartments in multiunit buildings. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a co-defendant to the suit.

There are now a number of Buffalo listings on the company's website.

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