Airbnb is pursuing legal action against New York City, alleging that the city’s new short-term rental regulations are exceedingly challenging to comply with and could essentially wipe out the home-sharing market in the city.
The law in question, Local Law 18, was implemented this year following the New York City Council’s approval in the previous year. The regulations took effect in March and enforcement is expected to begin in July. It mandates that any short-term rental for less than 30 days must register with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
Airbnb and three hosts filed lawsuits in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court, arguing the new rules are overcomplicated. The law obligates hosts to register with a unique identification account, prove their identity and contact details, and ensure their properties do not have any building code violations, among other requirements.
Airbnb’s attorney Karen Dunn voiced her concern, stating the new laws are so complex that the average person wouldn’t be able to understand them without a background in building code engineering. As of May 2023, the city has approved only nine host registrations, which Airbnb sees as an effective ban on short-term rentals in New York City. Dunn said, “That is a de facto ban on short-term rentals in New York, and that’s what the city is trying to bring about with these new rules. Airbnb will have to cancel thousands of reservations over the summer, impacting hosts and thousands of tourists planning to come to New York City. And so the city of New York is poised to be the Grinch who stole summer.”
In response, a City Hall spokesperson stated that the short-term rental rules have been clear for years, and the city has made efforts to assist hosts and rental companies in understanding them.
In a separate lawsuit, three Airbnb hosts argue that the mandatory disclosure of personal information, such as the number of unrelated individuals residing in their homes, is an unconstitutional intrusion into their privacy. They urge the city to differentiate between illegal hotel operators and small hosts renting out a part of their homes.
The new regulations could affect more than 7,200 home or apartment listings, constituting over 60% of New York’s regular Airbnb listings.
Airbnb is urging the court to prevent the enforcement of these rules, which is set to start next month.