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Airbnb could lose much of its New York business if State Senate bill passes

airbnb headquarters
Open Grid Scheduler / Flickr
Airbnb is at risk of losing its biggest market after the New York State Senate passed a bill that would outlaw the service from advertising unoccupied apartments for short-term rentals.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo still has to sign the bill before it becomes law, Airbnb and others in the tech industry have been vocal against the Senate vote on social media. The New York City Council had previously argued that the service is guilty of driving up rents, and the New York Senate vote marks the first tangible legal action against Airbnb in the state.

More specifically, the law would put a stop to Airbnb and other rental services from listing apartments for under-30-day rentals and those that conflict with New York City’s multiple dwelling law. This would essentially prevent people from creating rental businesses out of their unoccupied New York City apartments. There would be a $1,000 fine for a first offense — but a third offense bumps the penalty up to $7,500.

Airbnb spokesperson Josh Meltzer argued to TechCrunch that he was disappointed — although not surprised — that “politicians in Albany cut a last-minute deal with the hotel industry that will put 30,000 New Yorkers at greater risk of bankruptcy, eviction or foreclosure.”

Meltzer further said the proposal will make it difficult for New Yorkers, and that other governments have better regulated the home-sharing industry.

In opposition, New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who was one of the top sponsors on the bill, said the law would only target parties with multiple listings. This would prevent people from illegally operating house-sharing businesses, rather than using the service the way that the New York City Council prefers.

“There are so many units held by commercial operators, not individual tenants. They are bad actors who horde multiple units, driving up the cost of housing around them and across the city,” Rosenthal told the New York Post.

If Gov. Cuomo signs the bill, an Airbnb survey of its host community shows that about 31,000 people could be conflicting with the law and be at risk of either eviction or foreclosure. Further, a 2015 data set from the company suggests more than half of its listings in the state are for entire homes or apartments, rather than individual rooms, meaning potential trouble with the law as well.

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