New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law today a bill to make it illegal to advertise entire unoccupied apartments for less than 30 days on Airbnb, according to multiple reports. Cuomo had until October 29th to sign the bill, but until today the governor’s office had been mum on the legislation. Airbnb loudly opposed the measure, spending $10 million on a campaign to defeat its passage.
Airbnb spent $10 million to defeat the bill
Airbnb says it will sue to block the law from going into effect, according to the Times-Union. The company has retained the law firm Gibson Dunn, which is currently suing the state of New York to block a wage increase for fast food employees.
Airbnb first threatened to sue last month, claiming the bill was "unlawful" and would "impose real harm on the community." But then two days ago, the Silicon Valley home-sharing giant said it was considering some concessions. It's unclear whether the governor's office accepted any of those changes.
Airbnb proposed limiting hosts from making more than one listing in an effort to weed out property owners who opt to list multiple properties, making them unavailable to those seeking permanent housing. Housing activists have repeatedly said that this practice drives up the already high rents across New York City and reduces the supply of affordable housing.
Airbnb has been accused of exacerbating New York’s housing crisis by housing advocates, the state’s powerful hotel union, and members of the state legislature and New York City Council. Some unscrupulous landlords have been known to push out their tenants, many of them low-income, so they can turn their apartments into illegal hotels, which they advertise on Airbnb.
Airbnb has been accused of exacerbating New York’s housing crisis
Last year, the New York attorney general released a report that found that from 2010 through early June of 2014, $168.3 million, or 37 percent of revenue generated by Airbnb hosts, came from hosts with three or more listings.
We’ve reached out to Cuomo’s office and Airbnb and will update this story if we hear back.
Update, Oct. 23, 8:23AM ET: In a statement to The Verge, a spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed that the company would be suing New York in response to the law. "In typical fashion, Albany back-room dealing rewarded a special interest — the price-gouging hotel industry — and ignored the voices of tens of thousands of New Yorkers," the spokesperson said. "A majority of New Yorkers have embraced home sharing, and we will continue to fight for a smart policy solution that works for the the people, not the powerful. We are filing a lawsuit in New York this afternoon."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor signed the bill after careful deliberation. "This is an issue that was given careful, deliberate consideration, but ultimately these activities are already expressly prohibited by law," he said. "They also compromise efforts to maintain and promote affordable housing by allowing those units to be used as unregulated hotels, and deny communities significant revenue from uncollected taxes, the cost of which is ultimately borne by local taxpayers."