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New Airbnb Law Causes Stir in NYC: State measure strengthening regulations could affect thousands of hosts

24 October 2016
24 Oct 2016 -

A bill signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday that penalizes some Airbnb users with steep fines reverberated this weekend around New York City, where thousands of Airbnb hosts could be breaking the new law.

With fines of up to $7,500, the law targets Airbnb advertisers in violation of a state law passed in 2010 that bars rentals under 30 days in multiunit New York City buildings if the owner or tenant isn’t home during the guest’s stay.

Tom Cayler, an Airbnb critic who lives near Times Square, said the law provides new ammo against Airbnb.


Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the bill following fierce lobbying on both sides. Democratic lawmakers led the effort to strengthen regulations on Airbnb rentals, but the bill passed both the Democratic-led Assembly and the GOP-led Senate in Albany in June, with support from influential interest groups, such as hotel unions.

The law’s proponents say Airbnb has exacerbated a shortage of affordable housing in New York City, as the service’s operators cash in on homes that would otherwise be on the market. The service also poses safety risks and quality-of-life problems, they said.

In the tech and business sectors, the law has been criticized as stymieing innovation, hurting middle-class New Yorkers who make money renting their homes and slowing an economic engine.

Though the activity fined by the bill has been illegal for six years, the law wasn’t aggressively enforced before.

Lee Thomas said renting an apartment at his Queens home has helped him get through an illness. “It’s allowed me to make ends meet while I was looking at mountains of medical bills, and survive in a very expensive city,” the 57-year-old said.

Tourists expressed concern that they would lose out.

“If you limit the stay to over 30 days, you are going to lose university students who want to visit for a weekend,” said James Kifford, 26, of Australia who was sightseeing in Times Square on Sunday. “And they are going to lose the insider’s experience, the true local’s experience that you don’t get in a hotel.”

Just this weekend, Mr. Cayler said, he heard a party in his building, where he has lived since 1979, that he believes was coming from guests who were there through Airbnb.

“I’ve already spoken to this landlord about this and said we don’t appreciate this happening,” he said. “But now I can say, ‘Are you aware there’s this new law that passed? There’s a big fine.’”

Source: Wall Street Journal