Airbnb’s “commercial listings” should be regulated like businesses: de Blasio

Mayor calls for registration, taxes and safety inspections

Mar.March 04, 2016 11:30 AM

Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested last night that “commercial” Airbnb listings – whole units rented near constantly on the service – should be registered, taxed and inspected for safety.

While he broadly praised the short-term rental service’s impact on the city during his appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” the mayor called for tough regulations on Airbnb users running what he termed “de facto hotels.”

“Some people unfortunately have taken advantage of it,” the mayor said, “and decided to create de facto hotels, and gotten a lot of apartments and constantly rent them out. Basically it’s a business, not a residence. If you’re a business, you should register as a business, you should pay taxes like a business, you should go through safety inspections like a business.”

Airbnb didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but issued a statement in November condemning the practice de Blasio highlighted.

“We oppose illegal hotels,” it read, “They are not good for our community or New York — we are glad the City is fighting them and we hope we can all work together on some sensible rules of the road that protect middle class New Yorkers who share the home in which they live.”

The mayor was careful to say his suggestions didn’t apply to many of Airbnb’s New York City users.

“Other people of course just rent out a room once in a while,” de Blasio told Noah, “That’s fine. That’s not a big deal.”

De Blasio’s idea diverges from previous proposals to regulate short-term rentals in the city. City Council members Jumaane Williams and Helen Rosenthal have called for tougher penalties on Airbnb users who fail to abide by the city’s subleasing laws – which forbid rentals for less than 30 days without the apartments owner or lessee present – and have called on the company to disclose the identity of users who have violated them.

Williams and Rosenthal didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Back in October, The Real Deal performed a back-of-the-envelope analysis on the effect of “commercial listings” on rents in some of New York’s hottest neighborhoods.

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