Tensions High For Airbnb, New York Attorney General

Airbnb1

The New York Times had a great one-liner relating to the Airbnb case being argued in Albany right now:

“There was no room for agreement, and no agreement about rooms, in court Tuesday in Albany.”

The State of New York and the world’s largest startup have found themselves in a stalemate after the first day of hearings in a case that has taken the travel industry by storm.

Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, has issued a subpoena for Airbnb’s list of hosts in New York City because he thinks some of them are breaking the law.  It is illegal in New York to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days.

Airbnb is arguing that the government’s subpoena is too “extreme and incredible” in scope, as the state of New York is requesting users’ names, emails, the address of the rental, the dates, and the amount charged to rent.  The company sees this as a fundamental attack on its very existence because much of what it offers in New York is short-term rentals in apartment buildings.

Could This Have Been Avoided?
The subpoena was filed last fall, and until recently, it seemed there would be a deal.  Then, over the last few days, the issue exploded into acrimony, mostly on Airbnb’s side.  The company also scrubbed its site Monday of numerous New York hosts, including those that Mr. Schneiderman seemed most interested in – the ones offering dozens of apartments.

Karla G. Sanchez, the executive deputy attorney general for economic justice, argued the case for the state.  Her reasoning for requesting the list of all hosts in New York was for fear of people using more than one ID.  She also said that the state would be happy to limit the subpoena in a way that is not burdensome.

What Each Side Said After Day 1 in Court

“Despite all of Airbnb’s rhetoric, the company has never denied that substantial illegal activity is taking place on its site.  To the contrary, Airbnb decided before our hearing to remove 2,000 listings posted by ‘bad actors’ – hardly isolated cases.”

-Matt Mittenthal, press secretary to Attorney General.

“Cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Hamburg are embracing the sharing economy and New York shouldn’t be stuck playing catch-up.”

-David Hantman, head of global public policy for Airbnb.

More Trouble for Airbnb Going Forward?

San Francisco officials appear to be bringing down the hammer on short-term rental services like Airbnb and Craigslist.  Unlike New York state, which already had laws in place denying rentals of 30 days or less, legislation is being introduced this week in the Bay Area forcing residents to apply for the right to rent out their homes.

The proposed law will require residents to sign on to a new registry identifying them as people who are using their homes for limited short-term rental  It will also set terms for the length of stay and address safety concerns.  In order to qualify, you must be a permanent San Francisco resident who lives in the home for at least three quarters of the year.

To read the New York Times article about Airbnb’s case, click here.

To read about new “anti-Airbnb/Craigslist” legislation in San Francisco, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>