Earlier today, we sent the following email to Airbnb Hosts in New York City informing them that Airbnb and local Hosts have filed separate lawsuits against the City of New York.
Read the full message here:
For the better part of the last decade, we have worked hard to find a path forward for home sharing in New York City. With the help of Hosts like you, we’ve engaged directly with City leaders to advocate for clear and effective short-term rental rules that target illegal hotel operators and allow New Yorkers to continue to share their homes at a time when more families are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Despite these efforts, the City passed Local Law 18 last year, and earlier this year, the Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) approved new rules implementing the law. The law and rules effectively ban short-term rentals in New York City, and are a stark contrast to cities around the world that have enacted fair and balanced short-term rental rules. These restrictions are punitive and burdensome – for example, Hosts are not allowed to have internal locks on bedroom doors per OSE guidance. The City also requires Hosts to certify compliance with several confusing City codes and does not allow Hosts in private homes to rent their whole space while they are away. Many of you have also expressed frustration with the complicated registration system which makes it nearly impossible for Hosts to register with and be approved by the City.
To help address these concerns, over the last several months we’ve met with City leaders and engaged in OSE’s comment period to offer alternative solutions that allow New Yorkers to continue to share their homes and simplify the registration system for Hosts. Unfortunately, our conversations with City staff have not led to substantive changes, and as a result, we feel compelled to take action on behalf of Hosts like you and our ability to continue welcoming guests to New York City.
That is why, earlier today, Airbnb and three local Hosts filed separate lawsuits against the City of New York in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. In our lawsuit, we argue, among other things, that the law and new rules will result in a drastic decrease in the number of listings in New York City and represent a de facto ban on short-term rentals. In their complaint, Hosts argue in part that the law requires Hosts to share sensitive information about their household with OSE in violation of their right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, and that OSE unfairly requires Hosts to understand a complicated web of city codes.
We have a record of working with governments around the world to put in place fair rules that protect home sharing and take into account the unique goals of each community, and litigation is never our preferred course of action. Today’s filing comes only after exhausting all available paths for a sensible solution with the City. As we have stated time and again, it has long been our preferred goal to work with the City on a regulatory framework that differentiates between New Yorkers who responsibly share their space and illegal hotel operators, but the new rules force us to stand up on behalf of Hosts.
For those of you who are curious about what this litigation means for you, here is what you need to know: per OSE, the enforcement deadline is July and registration is a necessary step to continue hosting. Next Tuesday we will share more details about how the impending enforcement could impact your post-July 1 bookings, including guidance for you and your guests. We will share updates if OSE or the Court change the current enforcement deadline.
Airbnb began during the Great Recession and New York City was one of our first communities. As the City recovers from the impacts of the pandemic and more families look for additional sources of income to navigate these uncertain economic times, we will continue to fight for New Yorkers’ ability to share their home, as other Hosts can in cities around the world.
Airbnb Global Policy Director