Among yesterday's flurry of last-minute votes in the state legislature was the passage of a bill that will ban the advertising of entire apartments on sites like Airbnb, fining anyone who does advertise such a unit up to $7,500.
The bill, sponsored by Manhattan Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, was introduced in December, just a couple weeks after a data dump revealed that over half of NYC Airbnb users were advertising entire apartments. Renting out an entire apartment for a stay fewer than 30 days is, for most residents, against the law, but with the passage of this bill, advertising such a rental will also be illegal.
"Airbnb has flouted the laws that protect affordable housing and tenants with impunity for years," Rosenthal said in a statement yesterday upon the passage of the bill. "This bill, once it's signed into law, will send a strong message that we prioritize hardworking New York families and affordable housing, and will give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on illegal hotels that destabilize communities and deprive us of precious units of affordable housing."
The bill will punish first-time offenders with a fine of $1,000, going up to $5,000 for the second violation and $7,500 for the third. It does not apply to people who want to rent out single rooms in their apartments while they, too, are present.
The passage of the bill was hailed by those in the real estate and hotel industry, who have long feared that Airbnb will significantly damage New York City's hotel business. Vijay Dandapani, the chairman of the Hotel Association of New York City, said that "Airbnb facilitates the creation of a black market for illegal and unsafe commercial rental properties that don't follow any of the same regulations as legitimate hotels and negatively impact the residential real estate market by driving up rent and diminishing housing supply. This smart and innovative legislation will allow law enforcement agencies to better target, track, and penalize lawbreakers, while also protecting one of New York’s most vital economic contributors—the hotel and hospitality industry."
Predictably, Airbnb was less than thrilled by this new legislation, and while hotel industry leaders said its passage will protect middle class union hotel jobs, the platform argued that it'll harm middle class New Yorkers who rent their apartments to make some extra money.
"It's disappointing—but not surprising—to see politicians in Albany cut a last minute deal with the hotel industry that will put 30,000 New Yorkers at at greater risk of bankruptcy, eviction, or foreclosure," said Josh Meltzer, Head of New York Public Policy for Airbnb. "Let's be clear: this is a bad proposal that will make it harder for thousands of New Yorkers to pay the bills."
The bill, which passed through the state assembly and senate yesterday, will now go before Governor Cuomo. A spokesperson for the governor said only that his office will review the legislation.