New York lawmaker wants to legalize Airbnb

Republican from Hudson Valley introduces bill to regulate home sharing

From left: Airbnb Founders Nathan Blecharczyk,Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia
From left: Airbnb Founders Nathan Blecharczyk,Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia

An upstate senator introduced a bill Wednesday that would legalize and regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms in New York.

Senator John Bonacic, a Republican from Mt. Hope, wants to modernize the 2011 law that makes it illegal to rent an entire home or apartment for fewer than 30 days.

“This legislation amends the Multiple Dwelling law to legalize responsible home sharing in New York while enabling regulators to target enforcement of those who turn permanent housing into illegal hotels,” the proposed legislation reads.

The bill would also allow New York City to collect hotel taxes from Airbnb, and if passed it would essentially nullify the 2016 law that made it illegal to advertise illegal short-term listings on sites like Airbnb.

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Josh Meltzer, head of public policy in New York for Airbnb, said the proposed legislation “recognizes the enormous value” home sharing represents for New Yorkers, pointing out that Airbnb hosts generated $3.5 billion worth of economic activity in 2016.

“This kind of impact is impossible to ignore, and the special interests who cannot see it are holding New York back. Home sharing is here to stay, and the status quo is not sustainable — this bill is the way forward, and we are proud to support it,” he said.

But the legislation has its critics.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, one of Airbnb’s top opponents, said the state is “not in the business of changing laws that are designed to protect affordable housing at the request of tech billionaires seeking to further pad their bottom lines.

“I have introduced legislation to require Airbnb and other platforms that allow ads by illegal hotel operators to share information with cities that is critical to ensure public safety and protect affordable housing,” she said, according to New York State of Politics. “Hardworking New Yorkers are interested in transparency, while Airbnb is seemingly interested in transactional deal making. New York’s existing law protects affordable housing and public safety against illegal hotel operators, and that’s not up for debate.” [NY State of Politics]Rich Bockmann