Rivera’s Airbnb Bill Unanimously Approved By City Council

City Council member Carlina Rivera with Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a news conference July 18, 2018. Photo by Emil Cohen/New York City Council.

City Council member Carlina Rivera with Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a news conference July 18, 2018. Photo by Emil Cohen/New York City Council.

A bill sponsored by local City Council member Carlina Rivera aimed at Airbnb sailed through the Council yesterday.

The legislation, approved unanimously, would require home sharing firms to turn over information about their hosts to city regulators. It is illegal to rent most apartments in New York City for less than 30 days unless the host is present. The bill, which has the support of Mayor de Blasio, will enable the city to crack down on violators.

Critics of apartment sharing services say they have exacerbated New York’s housing crisis, making it easier for building owners to profit from short-term rentals. They argue that many apartments have been removed from the city’s stock of affordable housing as a result. Airbnb launched a ferocious PR campaign against Rivera and her Council colleagues.

After a similar law was enacted in San Francisco, the New York Times reported, Airbnb listings fell by half.  Companies will face a $1,500 penalty for each listing they fail to disclose.

Airbnb unsuccessfully argued that the law would hurt “the little guy,” struggling New York City residents who use the service to earn a little extra money. The firm also accused Council members of being beholden to the hotel industry. Following the vote, spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco said:

After taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry, we’re not surprised the City Council refused to meet with their own constituents who rely on home sharing to pay the bills and then voted to protect the profits of big hotels. The fix was in from the start and now New Yorkers will be subject to unchecked, aggressive harassment and privacy violations, rubber stamped by the City Council.

Rivera countered, “Yes, sometimes it’s the common New Yorker. But many times, especially in my district, these are landlords who are taking rent-regulated units out of the housing stock because they’d rather get a lot more money per night.” She added, “This bill is about transparency and bringing accountability to billion-dollar companies who are not being good neighbors.”