City Council Passes Bill to Require Airbnb to Disclose Host Data
The New York City Council recently passed a bill that requires Airbnb and other home-sharing sites to provide the names and addresses of its hosts to the city. Under state law, it’s illegal to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is there. If the host is found to be violating short-term rental laws, Airbnb could be fined up to $1,500. The bill, which was introduced by Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-Dist. 2) as Int 0981-2018 and passed 45-0, will almost certainly be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Just hours before the council unanimously voted for this legislation, an Airbnb host from Brooklyn sued the city in federal court for fining him $30,000 after speaking out against the bill. Airbnb is paying the host’s legal fees in this matter. The host says the city’s Office of Special Enforcement targeted him a week after he testified at a council hearing against the bill. The office fined him for not having a sprinkler system and fire alarm, failing to have proper exits, and for having an illegally converted basement. According to the lawsuit, the summonses totaling $32,000 are “baseless.”
Airbnb argued the legislation unfairly targets New Yorkers who legally rent their apartments to make ends meet. The company also accused members of the City Council of succumbing to pressures from the hotel industry. Airbnb released a list of council members with how much the industry had donated to each of their campaigns.
The host seeks compensatory and punitive damages. A spokesperson for Airbnb said the case was the first in New York in which the company had covered a host’s legal fees.