Any last-minute hopes for Airbnb to convince NYC government to side with short term rental sites were dashed last week when Mayor DeBlasio signed into law a bill severely restricting home sharing sites. The newly created NYC law goes into effect February of 2019 and requires all home sharing sites to provide the names and addresses of its hosts or face fines.
With zero avenues of change left at the city level, Airbnb is now focusing its efforts on the state government. New York State already has a law on the books making it illegal for anyone to rent a unit for less than 30 days without the owner present. A current bill in the state senate aiming to alleviate this restriction is now the primary target of Airbnb.
In addition to easing the 30-day restriction, the bill would also allow some rent-controlled apartments to be legally rented - a primary point of contention regarding the effect of home sharing sites - as well as allowing Airbnb to collect the same taxes that hotel guests pay.
“We knew that whatever happened at the city level, this issue is solved at the state level. Our focus is Albany,” said Josh Meltzer, a public policy spokesman for Airbnb.
Proving it’s serious about advancing the state bill, Airbnb launched a PR campaign under the guise of charity. This Wednesday, the company announced it will donate $10 million to seven non-profits throughout the state.
“New York state is leaving $100 million in annual tax revenue from Airbnb hosts on the table by not allowing us to collect and remit these taxes—$100 million," said Margaret Richardson, Airbnb's director of global policy. "It’s a big number. And we recognize that the impact of such a large amount is hard to grasp in theoretical terms. So today, we’re making it clear by launching a $10 million initiative, representing just one-tenth of the tax revenue state and city officials are leaving on the table annually.”
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