In the beginning of the summer, the New York State legislature passed a bill that would make advertising the rental of an entire home on Airbnb for fewer than 30 days punishable by an increasingly large series of fines. Passed at the end of the legislative session, the bill has sat both unsigned and unvetoed by Governor Cuomo, who merely said through a spokesman that he would "review" the legislation. With the bill's fate still in limbo, Airbnb is now threatening to sue New York State if Cuomo does end up signing the bill.
Under New York State's Multiple Dwelling Law, it is already illegal to temporarily rent out your full apartment for fewer than 30 days if you're not present, but the bill passed by the state legislature would also make it illegal to advertise the units. Airbnb had originally left things at a sternly worded statement calling the bill the child of a cabal of special interests and an attack on working New Yorkers. Now they've ratcheted things up, threatening the state with a lawsuit if the bill is signed.
And if that's not enough, they've also rolled out a heart string-tugging ad campaign that tells Airbnb hosts' stories, and is spending "just south of seven figures" on the campaign to try to persuade Governor Cuomo.
The lawsuit would argue that the legislation is violating the First Amendment, as well as illegally trying to regulate web content outside state borders, the site's general counsel Rob Chesnut explained in a letter Airbnb sent to Andrew Cuomo's office. Chesnut also wrote that he was only bringing up the potential lawsuit "out of respect for the process and to inform your considerations." So even if it sounds like Chesnut wrote something along the lines of "Nice state you got here, shame if anything should happen to it," that's all in your head. This is merely about respecting the process.
Airbnb has previously said that it would be able to "self-regulate" and didn't need the government to take any action against people who owned multiple buildings and turned them into illegal hotels by using the site. However, a study using Airbnb's own numbers alleged that the listings on the site ate up 10% of the available rentals in New York City in 2015.
An Airbnb spokesman declined to speak on record with Gothamist.