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Airbnb Could Face Big Fines Under Bill Proposed By Council Member Rivera

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Carlina Rivera during an unrelated tenant rally at City Hall last week. Image via CM Rivera's Twitter.
Carlina Rivera during an unrelated tenant rally at City Hall last week. Image via CM Rivera’s Twitter.

On Thursday, local City Council member Carlina Rivera plans to introduce legislation aimed at Airbnb.

If the proposal becomes law, the home sharing firm would be fined $25,000 for each apartment listing it fails to disclose in quarterly reports to the city. Airbnb and similar firms would be required to reveal addresses, host names and contact info in filings with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.

Rivera told Politico she hopes to schedule a hearing on the proposal right away. “To be clear,” she explained, “this bill is not going to punish the operators — it’s going to mandate consequences, financial consequences, that apply only to Airbnb, not the operators, if they do not hand over the info that we’re requiring.”

Screen shot: some of Airbnb's Lower East Side listings.
Screen shot: some of Airbnb’s Lower East Side listings.

Rivera and many of her Council colleagues believe Airbnb rentals are depriving local residents of apartments which would normally serve as rent stabilized housing. State law prohibits most short-term (less than 30 day) rentals unless the owner is present.

Airbnb has launched an aggressive campaign against the bill, arguing that the “deep pocketed big hotel industry” is behind the legislation, and that there could be internet privacy concerns. An Airbnb spokesperson claimed that the legislation would hurt, “seniors who share their space to avoid economic hardship while living on a fixed income; millennials who have opened their doors to pay off student debt; and families of color who share their home to stay in their home amidst rising rents.”

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