(5 mths ago)
Gov. Cuomo on Friday bowed to pressure from the hotel industry and signed into law one of the nation’s toughest restrictions on Airbnb — including hefty fines of up to $7,500 for people who rent out space in their apartments.
Backers of the punitive measure — which applies to rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not preset — say many property owners use Airbnb and similar sites to offer residential apartments as short-term rentals to visitors, hurting the hotel business while taking residential units off the Big Apple’s high-priced housing market.
(5 mths ago)
San Francisco lawsuit, NYC law highlight global risks for Airbnb
Ground zero for Airbnb’s fight against tightening regulations is its home of San Francisco, where the company has sued to block a new requirement that it reject booking fees from property owners who have not registered with the city.
The case is a crucial test of Airbnb’s business model. The company argues it cannot legally be held responsible for how landlords use its platform. If it is required to enforce local laws on short-term rentals, that could drastically reduce listings - and revenue - in some of its biggest markets.
Other cities looking to rein in Airbnb are watching the proceedings and looking to the city's law as a potential model, said James Emery, deputy city attorney of San Francisco.
"Throughout the country, people representing cities have called me to ask what's going on with the litigation," he said.
BATTLE IN BERLIN
In Berlin, Airbnb is fighting a city demand that it turn over information to help enforce a new law imposing fines of up $110,000 on people renting out more than 50 percent of their homes for less than two months - among the strictest regulations worldwide.
In Barcelona, Airbnb's third-largest market in Europe, the city is imposing fines that exceed $65,000 for listings without proper licenses. Amsterdam city officials in April started scraping data from Airbnb and other short-term rental websites to root out illegal hosts because Airbnb will not turn over details on violators.
(5 mths ago)
Airbnb sued the city of New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio today over legislation that would make it illegal to advertise accommodations that can’t legally be rented out for less than 30 days. The bill was passed in June and signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier today.
New York housing law restricts short-term rentals for certain housing, and housing advocates in the city argue that many of the units listed on Airbnb are illegal. Although these hosts can already face steep fines, the new law would make it illegal for Airbnb to allow listings for these units on their platform.
Airbnb claims the law is a violation of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from liability for content posted by their users. In the suit, Airbnb says that application of the law to Airbnb “would hold Airbnb liable for the content of rental listings created and posted by third-parties on Airbnb’s platform. As such, the Act unquestionably treats platforms such as Airbnb as the publisher or speaker of third-party content and is completely preempted by the CDA.”
In addition to violating the CDA, Airbnb also argues that the law violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its users. Airbnb has similar lawsuits against the cities of San Francisco, Anaheim and Santa Monica.
(5 mths ago)
Airbnb tensions mount
(4 mths ago)
Airbnb has capitulated to the demands of lawmakers over its operations in New York City, the company’s largest market in the United States, agreeing to drop a lawsuit in which it was pushing back against a newly passed state law that it said could have hurt its business.
The short-term home rental service on Friday settled the lawsuit that it filed against New York City two months ago. The suit challenged a New York law that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed in October. That law called for fines of as much as $7,500 for illegally listing a property on a rental platform such as Airbnb.
The company had said the large fines could have deterred hosts and impaired its revenue in New York City. Hosts in the city generated about $1 billion in revenue last year, and the company took a cut of that in fees.
But Airbnb on Friday agreed that it would drop the suit as long as New York City enforces the new law only against hosts and does not fine Airbnb. The settlement takes effect on Monday.
(3 mths ago)
Prying Eyes Are Watching Airbnb Users as Tenants Fight Back
In a gentrifying neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple exit their cab and head toward an apartment, rolling suitcases behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a private investigator by the name of Michael Joffe sits in his parked car just across the street, discreetly snapping pictures.
This is not a divorce case waiting to happen or an international spy caper. Nothing that salacious or mysterious. It is instead an episode that provides a window into how bitter the feud between struggling tenants and home-sharing websites like Airbnb Inc. has become. Joffe works for a tenant lawyer who in turns represents a family that was evicted from their apartment -- the one that the couple was entering that day.
The goal of the stakeout was to uncover, and document, smoking-gun proof that the landlord is violating city ordinances limiting the use of private homes for short-term rentals. It’s very lucrative work nowadays in San Francisco, the city that’s come to represent America’s shortage of affordable housing.
“Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, it’s a decent living in San Francisco right now being an investigator doing these kind of jobs, because here are so many of them,” Joffe, 48, said.