Airbnb and other sites that represent the short term rental market suffered a serious blow late last night with the passing of bill 6340--A. This bill makes online advertising of an entire dwelling less than 30 days illegal. This bill basically reiterates what the previously passed NYS Multiple Dwellings Law states but the major difference is the implementation of fines! They start at $1,000 and go up from there following repeat offenses. Although this law applies only to cities in New York State that have a population of 350,000 and above, it is still quite disappointing to see its passing.
WHAT THIS MEANS
In the short term this bill spells major trouble for those operating "entire home" listings. It refers specifically to those hosts who rent out their entire home or apartment while they, the homeowner or lessee, are not present. These listings account for about half of the listings currently found on Airbnb in NYC. A key thing to know about this law though is that it will be extremely hard for the city of New York to enforce. The department the city has dedicated to handling these matters is quite small and completely unable to enforce this law on a large scale. It is my belief that you will see small scale enforcement and those found to be violating the law will be made an example. But with it's current staffing issues, this department will find it next to impossible for greater enforcement to be possible.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
The future for Airbnb and similar websites remains murky at this moment in time, but my opinion on the situation as a whole is quite positive in regards to the long term outcome. Using history as our guide regarding tech companies, it seems as though one side did not give enough. In the case of Uber, many back rooms deals were negotiated by the former Mayor that allowed Uber to seamlessly continue operating legally.
From the countless articles I have read on the subject, it seems as though the New York State Legislature felt slighted by Airbnb's complete unwillingness to further negotiate. About a year ago Airbnb offered it's one and only concession which was to collect an additional hotel tax similar to that collected by traditional hotels in NYC. Although this tax was seen as a major step forward by Airbnb, the largest online short term rental service offered no further concessions and have refused to help the city and state enforce current laws. Current laws on the books in NYC have already made rentals of 30 days or less illegal. This new law now sets the cost of fines associated with violating it. In my opinion Airbnb and its competitors are going to have to give up more in future negotiations and this legislation makes that clear. This is yet another chapter in what will prove to be a long, draw out battle.
Craig Mannella is the owner/operator and founder of STAYAWAY Cleaning Services. After 7 years working in the cleaning and restoration industry, where he excelled in customer relations and satisfaction, he started his own cleaning company. Extensive training and industry experience along with time spent running a successful vacation rental listing lead to the creation of this blog.