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Senate approves bill that may lead to ban of Airbnb listings

A bill that aims to prohibit listings for short-term rentals has been approved by the New York State Senate, boosting the possibility of an outright ban for services like Airbnb.

Photo by jinkazamah/ Flickr
Photo by jinkazamah/ Flickr

The proposal outlaws online listings that last for under 30 days. It essentially widens the range of restriction for New York City apartments. Previously, New York State law only prohibited renting out apartments for under 30 days when the official resident is not present. However, listings for such apartments were not officially banned.

If caught, people who post online apartment listings on Airbnb face fines that essentially negate the financial benefits of being on the service. For the first violation, hosts will be fined $1,000 or below. The fine increases to $5,000 on the second violation. The highest fine is $7,500, which comes on the third and subsequent violations.

“While it is already illegal to occupy a class A multiple dwelling for less than 30 days, this legislation would clarify that it also illegal to advertise units for occupancy that would violate New York law. However, online home sharing platforms still contain advertisements for use of units that would violate New York law. It rests with the city and state to protect communities and existing affordable housing stock by prohibiting advertisements that violate the law, creating a civil penalty structure for those who violate the prohibition, and clarifying activities that constitute advertising,” the bill read.

REBNY President John Banks insists that the legislation does not impede on the legal use of short-term rentals. “It will, however, make it more difficult for bad actors to solicit unwitting participants in their illegal activity,” he wrote in an op-ed.

The move has been condemned by some of Airbnb’s investors. Actor Ashton Kutcher, who joined the company as a strategic advisor in 2011, said that state officials are blocking the growth of the tech industry in New York.

“Tech is the future of the NY economy, but @NYSA_Majority (New York State Assembly Majority) and @NYSenate might throw it all away with terrible anti-tech bill,” Kutcher wrote in a tweet.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Republican Andrew Lanza, passed with a vote of 56-6. To become law, the bill only needs the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has yet to indicate whether he is leaning towards signing or vetoing the bill. A representative for the governor said that he will review the proposal.

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