Law will require Airbnbs to register with the city

City Council passes legislation that would impacts 37,000 homes

New York /
Dec.December 09, 2021 02:45 PM

New York City Council member Ben Kallos (Getty Images, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

UPDATED Dec. 9, 2021, 5:43 p.m.: It may be lights out for homes listed on Airbnb and other rental sites.

A new law passed by the City Council will require more than 37,000 New York City homes advertised on Airbnb to be registered with the city. The legislation covers any short-term rental host and any platform that facilitates payments, including Booking.com, HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO.

In order to register, applicants must certify that they are the owner or tenant, designate an area for guests and affirm that hosting does not violate the terms of their lease or the law. The city would then confirm that the home is not public housing, rent-regulated, city-subsidized or on the “prohibited buildings list” where the owners or management have forbidden short-term rentals.

The registration system is modeled on similar setups in San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Santa Monica and other cities. It is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The legislation comes as the city seeks to revive its tourism industry. New York City hotels lost $4 billion in revenue as many rooms sat empty during the pandemic. Meanwhile Airbnb, which took an initial hit but then enjoyed a surge of business as people sought escapes, posted its highest ever quarterly revenue, $2.2 billion.

The new law is the latest in a series of efforts to buttress a frequently violated state law that requires an owner or tenant to be present in a dwelling rented for fewer than 30 days.

The state law is policed by the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, but that has proven practically impossible, according to a press release from Council Member Ben Kallos, who introduced the bill.

“Housing should be for New Yorkers. Hotels should be for tourists,” Kallos said in a statement.

But Alex Dagg, Northeast policy director for Airbnb, said in a statement, “It is clear that the intent of outgoing Council Member Kallos’ bill is to hurt middle-class families in the outer boroughs looking to make a little extra money and is especially puzzling given [that] the city is trying to resuscitate tourism.”

The city previously passed a law making it illegal to even list a rental that ostensibly does not comply with state law, but enforcement of that statute turned out to be equally difficult. Airbnb’s internal controls, including one to prevent a single owner from listing multiple units, have also been readily circumvented. And landlords have struggled to prevent tenants from renting their units for short stays, which is forbidden by most leases.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Airbnb.





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