Airbnb Inc. on Wednesday announced planned changes to its home-listing website in New York in an effort to appease regulators, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo considers a bill that would impose stiff fines on some hosts.
The San Francisco company said it would limit hosts living in New York City to one rental listing at a time and kick users off the site after three violations. Since 2010, Airbnb rentals of less than 30 days have been illegal in New York City multiunit buildings if the tenant isn’t present.
Gov. Cuomo is considering a bill that would impose fines of up to $ 7,500 for advertising rentals that run afoul of the law. He has until the end of October to sign the legislation. A spokeswoman for Gov. Cuomo said the bill is still under review.
Airbnb executives on Wednesday said they opposed the proposed legislation in part because it could deter otherwise law-abiding hosts from listing their properties, would introduce unnecessary complexity and is the work of lobbyists. In a call with reporters, Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of public policy, called the bill “baffling” and “inconsistent with the best interests of the middle class.”
Mr. Lehane said that just 4% of hosts on average in New York City today have more than one listing concurrently. The company said hosts in New York typically take in around $ 5,000 annually from Airbnb rentals.
Airbnb also plans to seek authority from the state to collect and remit taxes from hosts and require hosts submit to additional registration. Mr. Lehane said Airbnb’s measures announced Wednesday would ensure home-sharing doesn’t remove permanent housing from the rental market and help regulators focus on illegal activity.
New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, said Airbnb’s business model is predicated on breaking the law. The existing structure of fines “is not enough to compel bad actors to comply with the law,” she said.
Airbnb, which allows people to rent private apartments and homes for quick stays, has often caught the ire of state legislators, some of whom view it as a threat to local hotel industries and a nuisance for tenants in multiunit buildings. The company, which recently landed a $ 30 billion valuation, argues its service encourages tourism by opening available housing stock at rates that can be less than hotel rooms and grants homeowners a new revenue stream.
The startup has often tussled with legislators since its founding in 2008, but New York is a crucial market for Airbnb due to its size and tourism market.
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