City holds hearing on Airbnb rules

How the Adams administration moves towards implementation a law making short-term rentals more restrictive in New York City, Airbnb and hosts using the platform are making a final push to get city officials to change course.

The mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement will hold a hearing on Monday on proposed rules to enforce the law, which the city council passed in late 2021. The measure requires short-term rental hosts to register with the city and bans listing platforms like Airbnb from processing transactions for a host that isn’t registered.

To register, hosts must provide information, including the address of their home, the full legal names of everyone who lives there, and a diagram of their home identifying things like fire exits within the building and the rooms used for short vacations – term rental. They must also prove they are the permanent resident of the unit with documentation such as bank statements and utility bills.

Christian Klossner, executive director of OSE, said last month the rules “clarify short-term rental laws and provide a straightforward process for hosts to obtain registration for their legal rentals.” State law prohibits rentals of less than 30 days without a host present. City officials, backed by the politically influential Hotel Union, have argued that short-term rentals are taking units out of New York’s tight rental market and have been abused by operators who have used the platforms to run illegal hotels.

Airbnb said the latest measure “will create a draconian and impractical registration system, preventing legitimate and responsible hosts from listing their homes at a time when New York families are coping with the rising cost of living.” It has long seen the platform as a way for people who Living in an expensive city, designed to make ends meet.

The proposed rules also detail a process for landlords to add their properties to a “prohibited building list,” which would prohibit residents from registering as hosts. The Real Estate Board of New York praised the rules, saying in testimony that the measure will help prevent owners or managers from being fined for short-term activities they don’t authorize.

Airbnb and its hosts, meanwhile, have raised concerns, including that the registration process is too cumbersome and requires hosts to disclose private information on a public-facing city website. One host, Bed-Stuy’s Mike Harp, said in online comments the rules were “a major overstatement by the government controlling how I use the home I own and pay taxes”.

The rules, set to take effect in January, will see fines of up to $5,000 for hosts who don’t comply.

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