Airbnb files suit against Schneiderman, de Blasio

Civil suit claims deprivation of Constitutional rights

From left: Bill de Blasio, Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Eric Schneiderman
From left: Bill de Blasio, Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Eric Schneiderman

Airbnb filed a federal lawsuit Friday afternoon naming state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York as defendants after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law earlier in the day banning the advertising of illegal short-term listings.

The $30 billion San Francisco-based startup filed the civil lawsuit in Manhattan’s Southern District court claiming a deprivation of Constitutional rights. “It is an unjustifiable content-based restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment,” the lawsuit states.

Airbnb further alleges the city’s “restrictions will make it more difficult for city residents to use home-sharing to help pay their rent or mortgage, making the city less affordable,” according to the complaint.

As of Oct. 1, there were roughly 46,000 hosts listed on Airbnb in New York. The tech firm says it has also made efforts to cut down on illegal rentals by removing over 2,900 listings in New York City as of September.

In response, Schneiderman released a statement saying his office would defend the law.

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“The law signed today will provide vital protections for New York tenants and help prevent the continued proliferation of illegal, unregulated hotels, and we will defend it,” the statement read. “Airbnb can’t have it both ways: it must either police illegal activity on its own site — or government will act to protect New Yorkers, as the State just did.”

Airbnb is being represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorney Mylan Denerstein, who could not be immediately reached for comment.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo signed a bill that imposes fines of up to $7,500 per violation for New Yorkers who list illegal short-term rentals in violation of the state’s 2010 multiple dwelling law.

Cuomo signed the bill, which the state Legislature passed in June, after “careful, deliberate consideration,” a spokesperson said.

In a last-ditch attempt to sway Cuomo, Airbnb suggested it would limit the number of listings per host to just one.