Airbnb offers up policy changes as illegal rental bill sits on Cuomo’s desk

Governor has until Oct. 29 to sign or veto bill

Airbnb has offered up a few changes to its policy as it waits to see if Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign a bill that fines illegal rentals.

The short-term rental site suggested a few new rules, including one that will restrict the number of apartments a host can list to just one starting on Nov. 1, the New York Daily News reported. This measure would help “ensure that home-sharing does not remove permanent housing from the rental market,” Chris Lehane, head of Airbnb’s global policy, wrote in a letter to the editor.

The company will also implement a “three strikes” policy that will ban hosts who repeatedly break the site’s rules.

Lehane also asserted, however, that state law needs to distinguish between illegal hotel operators and “everyday New Yorkers.”

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“Just as we changed laws to adapt from the horse-and-buggy era to the automobile, so should we update laws first drafted prior to the Great Depression to recognize the economic opportunity home-sharing provides,” Lehane wrote.

The policy changes come as the fate of a bill that will fine illegal rentals — those rented for less than 30 days — looms large. In June, the state legislature passed a bill that slaps fines up to $7,500 on illegal rentals through the apartment-sharing site. Cuomo has until Oct. 29 to sign or veto the measure.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, appears unimpressed by Airbnb’s proposed changes.

“What Airbnb fails to realize is that one unit of affordable housing lost represents one family who will not be able to find a home in New York, and that is simply unacceptable,” she said. [NYDN] — Kathryn Brenzel