Despite a multi-million dollar campaign to sway public opinion, Airbnb has lost a critical battle in Jersey City after residents there voted overwhelmingly for a host of stricter regulations on short-term rentals.
The Election Day outcome is expected to significantly curb the number of Airbnb units on the market in Jersey City, which is roughly 20 minutes by train from Lower Manhattan and has become increasingly popular with tourists seeking a cheaper option than New York City.
The new rules require owners of short-term rentals to obtain a city permit and forbids homeowners from renting out their homes for more than 60 days a year if they do not live on-site. The latter rule deals a significant blow to professional Airbnb operators who had acquired condos for the sole purpose of renting them.
Airbnb spent more than $4 million on the ballot issue, buying television ads as well as inundating the city with flyers. According to NJ.com, it was the most expensive local referendum in New Jersey's history. On the other side, the Hotel Trades Council, along with a coalition called Share Better, spent about $1 million in favor of the new restrictions.
“It sends a very clear message to other cities and a very clear message to Airbnb that regular people want reasonable regulations,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday. “And this wasn’t even close.”
In 2018, New York City passed a law that requires short-term rental owners to provide a monthly report on all of their listings, including the identities and address of their hosts. But following a lawsuit from Airbnb and other home-sharing sites, a federal judge blocked the law. The legal matter is pending.