Airbnb takes NYC home rental law fight to court

by Francis Monfort27 Aug 2018

Airbnb is trying to avoid losing millions due to new legislation in New York City that would allow authorities to catch homeowners who violate the city’s home-sharing laws, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The home-rental provider has filed a lawsuit to challenge a law that authorizes the collection of data on hosts. Airbnb claims the ordinance goes against the constitutional rights of users.

“The ordinance is an unlawful end-run around established restraints on governmental action and violates core constitutional rights,” according to Airbnb’s claim filed in New York court.

Expedia’s HomeAway also filed a similar lawsuit, alleging the law violates privacy laws.

The recently passed legislation, which takes effect in the winter, allows the policing of short-term home rentals. Passed with a vote of 45-0, the law requires Airbnb and similar business to share host data, such as names and addresses, with New York City’s Office of Special Enforcement.

The regulation comes as New York continues to struggle with an affordable housing shortage. According to regulators, while short-term home rentals can be more profitable than long-term leases, they disrupt neighborhoods and drive up rents.

“This law provides the city with the critical data it needs to preserve our housing stock, keep visitors safe, and ensure residents feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods,” Christian Klossner, executive director for the mayor’s special enforcement office, told Bloomberg in an emailed statement. “The city will defend it.”

With New York as one of the biggest markets for Airbnb, sources close to the company said the law could be devastating. While other cities may follow in New York’s footsteps, Airbnb said it is successfully partnering with officials in France, Australia, China, and India.

“The New York City Council is a wholly owned subsidiary of the hotel industry, and they aren’t interested in working together,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy.

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