Airbnb to Sue the City of New York

Airbnb went to court to sue New York City over a new home-sharing law. The law requires Airbnb to share data about its hosts’ every month with the New York City Office of Special Enforcement. Airbnb claims that the law is an infringement of privacy and violates both the federal and state constitution.

 

There is an affordable housing crisis in New York City. The administration of the city blames the ever-rising cost of housing on companies like Airbnb which offer short-term rental services. The administration argues that since short-term rentals are more profitable, they drive rent prices up. Therefore, the new law is an attempt to catch Airbnb hosts who do not abide by the home-sharing laws. In fact, the NYC estimates as much as two-thirds of Airbnb listings are illegal.

 

On the other hand, Airbnb argues that the law violates constitutional rights. The information to be given to the city officials could be shared with other cities or become part of a public record that can be accessed by any citizen.

 

The company maintains that the law is aimed at intimidating New York people into abandoning home-sharing in favor of hotel accommodation. Apparently, the hotel industry has close ties to the city government through a former city employee.

 

The legislation was passed in July without opposition and was signed to law by the mayor on August 6. Once the law comes to effect, it will require home-sharing companies such as Airbnb to share information about their hosts, the location of the rental property and the kind of rental (whole unit or partial), how many days it was rented, and the proceeds collected by the host and the booking platform.

 

According to the Mayor’s Office, the information will provide the city with the data they need to control housing cost, and ensure residents and visitors feel secure and safe in their neighborhoods. The city intends to defend the law. The law will be a big blow to Airbnb in New York, which is its largest market. A similar law in San Francisco saw the number of its listings fall by more than half.

 

The lawsuit filed on Friday by Airbnb is just one of the company’s many battles with New York City over the past decade. Who will emerge the winner in this lawsuit?

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