Airbnb spends big on new ad campaign to sway Cuomo

Governor could veto a new bill that would levy fines of up to $7,500 on its users

Airbnb is spending close to $1M to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo that it isn’t the scofflaw it’s made it to be, but rather an economic necessity for many New Yorkers.

The short-term rental listing site launched a multimedia ad campaign to convince the governor to veto a state bill that would raise fines on its “hosts.” The ads, which feature a cancer patient and a cash-strapped Columbia student who are both supposedly dependent on Airbnb income, will run on television, online and in taxis through mid-November.

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In June, the state legislature passed a bill that would levy a $7,500 fine on anyone who rents out a room via Airbnb and is not present in the apartment at the time. Now it’s up to Cuomo to either veto or sign the bill.

Airbnb argues that the bill would punish a benign practice – earning a few extra bucks by sharing your apartment with tourists. The bill’s proponents, including the powerful hotel unions, argue that it is necessary to combat illegal listings and preserve the city’s housing stock.

“If Airbnb is willing to spend millions to protect illegal hosts who steal affordable housing from NY tenants, it just shows what an integral part of their business the advertising of illegal units is,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, told Politico. [Politico]Konrad Putzier