Airbnb Threatens to Sue if Gov. Cuomo Signs Anti-Airbnb 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, in June, a bill passed by the state legislature made it illegal to advertise the units. The bill would levy a $7,500 fine on anyone who violates it. Now, it’s up to Cuomo to either veto or sign the bill.

Along with initiating an ad campaign against the bill, Airbnb has sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders stating that the bill violates due process protections for those who may not realize the units they are advertising are illegal under state law.

"As this unlawful bill would impose real harm on our community, out of respect for the process and to inform your considerations, we want to formally notify the state that if it is signed into law by Governor Cuomo, Airbnb would have no choice but to immediately file suit against the State of New York and ask a court to declare the statute invalid and unenforceable as well as to award any damages and fees as appropriate," wrote Airbnb’s general counsel, Rob Chestnut.

Airbnb, which has brought similar lawsuits in other parts of the country, claims the bill as written violates federal law by not differentiating between hosts who list their properties for short-term rental and the platform that carries the listings.

Supporters of the bill, which include housing activists and developers, say the legislation merely helps enforce a prior law that already makes home sharing in multifamily units in New York City for less than 30 days illegal. But in imposing fines of up to $7,500 per violation, Chesnut says the bill fails to distinguish between individuals who occasionally share their home and commercial operators. The fines, he wrote, would be higher than those for drunken driving or misdemeanor assault and "would be incredibly harmful to everyday New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet while doing little to deter commercial operators who have access to capital investments."