Cuomo signs bill banning illegal Airbnb listings

$30B startup vows to fight back in court

Map of Airbnb listings (credit: Inside Airbnb) and Andrew Cuomo
Map of Airbnb listings (credit: Inside Airbnb) and Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Friday that prohibits New Yorkers from advertising illegal listings on home-sharing websites like Airbnb, which has pledged to fight back with legal action.

The bill sat on Cuomo’s desk for months after the state Legislature approved it in June, while Airbnb waged a campaign to persuade the governor to veto the measure ahead of the Oct. 29 deadline.

Cuomo signed the bill Friday, citing concerns critics have argued regarding affordable housing and foregone tax revenue, according to the New York Daily News.

“This is an issue that was given careful, deliberate consideration, but ultimately these activities are already expressly prohibited by law,” Cuomo spokesperson Richard Azzopardi said as he announced the bill signing.

“They also compromise efforts to maintain and promote affordable housing by allowing those units to be used as unregulated hotels, and deny communities significant revenue from uncollected taxes, the cost of which is ultimately borne by local taxpayers,” Azzopardi added.

Airbnb, which in August was valued at $30 billion, said it would be filing a lawsuit Friday afternoon.

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“In typical fashion, Albany back-room dealing rewarded a special interest — the price-gouging hotel industry — and ignored the voices of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.” Josh Meltzer, head of public policy in New York for Airbnb, said in a statement. “A majority of New Yorkers have embraced home sharing, and we will continue to fight for a smart policy solution that works for the people, not the powerful.”

The new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per incident for those who advertise short-term rentals that violate the state’s 2010 multiple dwelling law.

In response to Cuomo’s decision, Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks said the new law “is an important step toward stopping illegal behavior that takes precious housing units off the market, threatens hotel workers’ jobs and hurts the quality of life for residents in our city’s multifamily buildings.”

Airbnb has been in a public policy fight with the likes of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council and lawmakers who oppose the San Francisco-based startup.

The Real Deal last year found that the short-term rental website was pushing up rents in certain neighborhoods[NYDN]Rich Bockmann