Airbnb cool to proposed short-term rental registry across NY

Bill would ease tax collection and enforcement, keep 30-day rule

New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey (New York State Senate, Getty)
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey ( New York State Senate, Getty)

Short-term rental registries have popped up at the local level, but one New York lawmaker is looking to take the practice statewide.

Airbnb has long requested legislation to legitimize its operations across the state, but this is probably not what the rental giant had in mind.

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey introduced the Short-Term Rental Registry Act last week, the Times Union reported. The bill would aid municipalities in their efforts to track, regulate and tax short-term rentals. State Sen. Liz Kreuger, a nemesis of Airbnb for years, is co-sponsoring the bill.

The bill would create a statewide registry, managed by the Department of State. Property owners would be required to register rental units every two years, or risk $200 daily fines. Registries can ease enforcement of illegal rentals.

Municipalities with their own rental registries would be required to provide that information to the state, sparing property owners the need to register their units in separate places. In turn, the state would provide municipalities with a monthly report on rental volume, location and occupancy.

The data would also be provided to short-term rental companies to ensure compliance with the registry.

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Notably, the bill would amend the tax code to change the definition of short-term rentals to hotels. That and other provisions would allow municipalities and the state to collect sales and occupancy taxes on the properties.

Progressive activist group For the Many supports the bill. The group has been pushing for similar short-term rental laws across the Hudson Valley.

Airbnb had a more muted response to the legislation.

“We have worked closely with dozens of communities across the state, and as people continue to navigate the rising cost of living, we are committed to promoting responsible hosting which contributes to the local economy,” spokesperson Haven Thorn said in a statement.

New York City is creating its own short-term registry, born out of Local Law 18. The city’s Office of Special Enforcement proposed a series of rules for implementing the law, which could help landlords avoid fines for illegal short-term rentals by their tenants.

State law bans renting out a residential unit for fewer than 30 days unless a full-time resident is present. That law has been difficult to enforce, however.

Airbnb wants a statewide policy legalizing short-term rentals of an entire home, saying it would benefit homeowners and generate substantial tax revenue for state and local governments.

— Holden Walter-Warner