$25K per undisclosed listing: New City Council bill will come down hard on Airbnb

Legislation would require site to provide personal info on hosts

Jun.June 05, 2018 11:27 AM

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and Council member Carlina Rivera (Credit: Getty Images, Facebook, and Wikipedia)

The City Council is slated to consider a controversial bill seeking to fine Airbnb up to $25,000 for every listing it fails to disclose to the city.

The legislation, which will be introduced in the City Council on Thursday, requires online home-sharing companies to submit data on individual listings — including the host’s name, home address and phone number — to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which goes after illegal hotel operators, Politico reported. Under the bill, Airbnb and similar companies can be fined between $5,000 and $25,000 for each listing that isn’t shared with the city.

To be clear, this bill is not going to punish the operators — it’s going to mandate consequences, financial consequences, that apply only to Airbnb, not the operators, if they do not hand over the info that we’re requiring,” said Council member Carlina Rivera, a sponsor of the legislation. “We are trying to get as much info as possible to make links to identify the bad operators.”

Josh Meltzer, Airbnb’s head of public policy for the Northeast region, said the legislation violates internet privacy laws and is being pursued “at the behest of the deep-pocketed, big hotel industry.”

“Let’s be clear about who will feel the pain from this bill: seniors who share their space to avoid economic hardship while living on a fixed income; millennials who have opened their doors to pay off student debt; families of color who share their home to stay in their home amidst rising rents,” he said in a statement.

The Real Deal sat down with Meltzer to discuss the bill last month.

Under state law, residents of most apartment buildings are barred from renting their units for fewer than 30 days unless they are present. Airbnb is pushing for a state bill that would do away with this restriction.

Last month, New York City comptroller Scott Stringer released a report blaming Airbnb for rising rents in the city. Airbnb and others called the report’s methodology into question. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel

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