Dems spar over Airbnb bill that would allow more short-term rentals

Proposal would make exceptions to New York housing laws

A proposal to allow more Airbnb rentals in the city by making exceptions to New York’s housing laws is the latest battleground for the short-term rental company.

A bill introduced last week — backed by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol — would permit short-term rentals in New York City.

But a coalition of Democrats, organized through a union-backed group called Share Better, is opposing the bill and have taken to Twitter with messages including, “We see though your scam & oppose your bill to repeal affordable housing protections.”

If passed, the bill would allow rentals under 30 days in New York City — provided the host registers the apartment with the city and agrees to only rent one unit at a time.

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“This is just a bunch of hotel industry brouhaha meant to distract from the fact…that we’re seeking a working solution that allows everyday New Yorkers to share their home while still cracking down on bad actors,” an Airbnb spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

In supporting the bill, Lentol broke with Democrats who’ve largely opposed Airbnb’s growth. This week, the Albany Times Union reported that language in his memo, attached to the proposed bill, was lifted from Airbnb materials. “We should have attributed that language, but the intent was not to take language inappropriately, and it can be corrected very easily,” a spokeswoman for Lentol said.

In New York, the hotel unions have donated more than $100,000 to Democratic lawmakers over the past few years.

Leaked documents show that the national hotel industry systematically pushed for anti-Airbnb legislation in 2016, focusing on cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

Airbnb’s growth has slowed globally amid tightening regulations, according to recent reports. [WSJ] — E.B. Solomont