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New York Senate passes bill that bans short-term apartment listings on Airbnb

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will soon either veto or sign into law a bill that makes it illegal to advertise entire unoccupied apartments for short-term rentals on Airbnb. Despite loud objections from Airbnb and Silicon Valley investors like Ashton Kutcher and Paul Graham, the New York State Senate passed the bill on Friday, the latest development in a complicated relationship between Airbnb and its biggest market. Now the measure is headed to Cuomo's desk. The bill prohibits online apartment listings that last under 30 days and run up against the city's multiple dwelling law, which is designed to stop apartment buyers from renting out the entire space and basically turning their units into Airbnb hotels.

First-time offenders would be fined $1,000, but a third infraction would be much costlier at $7,500. "Let’s be clear: this is a bad proposal that will make it harder for thousands of New Yorkers to pay the bills," an Airbnb spokesperson told TechCrunch. "Dozens of governments around the world have demonstrated that there is a sensible way to regulate home sharing and we hope New York will follow their lead and protect the middle class."

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, one of the bill's sponsors, disagrees, claiming that it targets "people or companies with multiple listings. 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." There's also a level of fear mongering in Rosenthal's stance. “You should know who your neighbor is and what happens when people rent out their apartments on Airbnb is you get strangers," she told the New York Post. "Every night there could be different person sleeping in the next apartment and it shatters that sense of community in the building. It also can be dangerous.”

Airbnb insists the bills supporters are exaggerating facts and are instead backing the interests of the hotel industry. The Internet Association has placed radio ads in Albany that support Airbnb's side, and numerous venture capitalists have also slammed the New York bill as harmful to innovation.