Published on 06/13/2020 at 11:51 am
New York City Hall and Airbnb buried the hatchet on Friday, with an agreement to share information about the hosts of the accommodations offered by the platform in the U.S. economic capital. The agreement, announced as the tourism sector has been brought to a halt by the pandemic, puts an end to several years of controversy and legal battles. In particular, the town hall adopted a decree in August 2018 requiring Airbnb to provide it with a list of all transactions made for housing in New York, against a background of growing dispute over the role of the platform.
In Paris, London, Barcelona or New York, Airbnb was then accused of contributing to the rise in rental prices, by encouraging owners to rent to passing visitors rather than to its permanent residents. By requiring information about hosts, New York City hoped it could more effectively enforce a New York law that prohibits renting accommodation for less than 30 days unless the host is present. But Airbnb had challenged this decree in court, not without success, denouncing an “abuse of power” by the town hall and leading to a legal battle with an uncertain outcome.
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“Protecting affordable housing”
The deal announced on Friday provides for Airbnb to share with the municipality only information regarding accommodations booked for five or more nights per quarter, provided they accommodate at least three people or are rented whole. A room rented in an apartment, with a capacity limited to two people, will therefore not be concerned. With this agreement, “we will have the key information we need to protect affordable housing,” Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
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“The city will have a powerful tool to detect those who hide behind false accounts and those who deprive New Yorkers of housing,” added Christian Klossner, in charge for the town hall of the application of this regulation. “We wanted for a long time to have an effective regulatory framework in New York, including information sharing, and this agreement succeeds,” said Christopher Lehane, vice-president in charge of communications at Airbnb. Before the pandemic, New York State was one of Airbnb’s largest markets, with more than 45,000 people offering homes online.