The state of New York is undertaking another step in an attempt to regulate home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
The local Democratic legislators introduced a new bill Tuesday to restrict New Yorkers from listing more than one property on these sites. In addition to that, under the proposed legislation it would no longer be possible to list affordable housing and rent-stabilized apartments from being rented out on a short-term contract.
Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol who sponsored the bill commented that the primary goal is to create the much-anticipated balance between the law and the home-sharing sites. Airbnb, HomeAway and the like are here to stay, the sponsors said.
Under the current laws, some New York City residents could be fined for renting out their properties on a short-term basis. In most of the buildings, it is not permitted for a flat to be rented out for less than a month unless the permanent tenant is living in it at the same time.
Airbnb's head of communications, Chris LeHane, who also joined the lawmakers when introducing the bill, confirmed the home-sharing platform supported the changes.
Jonathan Westin, director of the group New York Communities for Change, which campaigns for low- and moderate-income New York City residents, did not share this enthusiasm. Moreover, Westin highlighted he would fight ''tooth and nail'' to protect his vulnerable communities from ''predators'' such as Airbnb. In his view, the current rules are essentials to prevent a further loss of affordable housing in the nation's largest megapolis.
In January this year, a federal judge in New York City stopped a proposed law to require the rental sites to disclose the addresses of the listings and the identity of the hosts to the city's enforcement authority every month, The New York Times writes. According to the judge, it would violate the right to protection against unauthorized searches and seizures guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who turned the bill into law in summer 2018 after the City Council approved it unanimously, as well as some other Democratic lawmakers, accused Airbnb and HomeAway in having a central role in rising rents in the city. The home-sharing platforms turned the apartments into illegal hotels, de Blasio said back in August.
New York City is the largest U.S. market for Airbnb, with over 50,000 listings. As such, New York is often said to be a hotbed of illegal Airbnb activity. However, a research conducted by Jake Wegmann, a planning professor at the University of Texas Austin, showed that it was not the only one in the U.S. having issues with the housing platforms.
Analyzing the effects of Airbnb and HomeAway on San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Austin, and Washington DC, Prof. Wegmann estimated commercial operators and not individuals run an impressive number of the listings in these cities. For instance, one-third of all listings were run commercially, while in Boston it is 44 percent, prof. Wegmann found out.
Do you support or oppose the proposed bill to regulate the Airbnb activity in New York?