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Airbnb Drops Lawsuit Against New York City, Agrees to Share Host Data

Hospitality app Airbnb is making peace with New York City as Phase One reopening continues. New York City and Airbnb reached an agreement to settle policy and data sharing disputes. As a part of the deal, Airbnb will dismiss its federal lawsuit against New York City. The New York City Council will introduce an updated local law regarding short-term rentals which will require data sharing from Airbnb about future hosts six months after the new law is passed. New York City will not gain access to previous hosts or their information.

Under this updated local law, short-term rental platforms would share information with the New York City on a quarterly basis. The report would include all listings that generate five or more nights of bookings per quarter, so long as the listing offers an entire home or allows three or more guests to stay at one time. Information will not be provided for private or shared room listings with two or fewer guest capacity; for listings that are rented for less than five nights per quarter; or for listings that are in qualifying traditional hospitality locations, based on a list the City will publish.

Airbnb’s Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk wrote an open letter to Airbnb hosts to discuss the future changes. The company plans to hold a webinar on June 29 to answer host questions.

“..We believe this amended ordinance will build the trust necessary to enact further reforms of New York State’s short-term rentals regulations. We hope that our willingness to be transparent enables the State and the City to feel reassured that short-term rentals can be effectively regulated without blunt prohibitions. Now more than ever, regular New Yorkers should have the ability to occasionally share their home, activity that we believe should not be confused with illegal hotels. By sharing all relevant data, we hope to make this very clear to all those concerned,” Blecharczyk said. “.. Airbnb began during the Great Recession and New York City was one of our first communities, in part because many New Yorkers had lost their jobs. As we look ahead to the recovery from COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis, we know that more individuals and families than ever before will depend on additional sources of income to make ends meet—and we will stand ready to help New Yorkers again during this pivotal time.”

For all eligible listings, reports provided to New York City would be required to include:

  • Physical address of the listing;
  • Host information (name, physical address, phone number, and e-mail address);
  • The name, number and URL of the listing;
  • Whether the short-term rental is for an entire unit or part of a unit;
  • The total number of days booked;
  • The amount received by the host for each transaction, as well as the account name and anonymized account identifier relating to those payments

The settlement is premised on the amendment of the current local law governing short-term rental reporting to reflect the framework above.

“With this agreement, the City will have a powerful tool to detect those who hide behind fake accounts and address those who take housing away from New Yorkers,” Christian Klossner, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement said. “The revised law would not change in any way the current laws governing whether short-term rentals and their advertisements are legal. We will be able to better protect our communities and visitors, and more fully understand the impacts of the illegal short-term rental market. Now more than ever, transparency is vital to the City’s ability to keep residents and travelers safe.”

The end of the lawsuit with the city could ease expenses for Airbnb during the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospitality and airline industry has seen record losses while travelers stay home in hopes of flattening the curve and stopping the spread of coronavirus.

“We have long wanted to work with New York City on an effective regulatory framework, including information sharing — this agreement achieves that,” said Christopher Lehane, Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy and Communications for Airbnb said in a statement. “As we look toward the recovery of New York’s tourism economy, we hope this settlement will represent a continuing relationship and the first step on a path forward for our community citywide.”

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Monica Link

Monica Link

Monica Link is a New York City-based multimedia journalist, entrepreneur and performer. She produces media including content, stage, film and events. Her resume includes interviews with celebrities, New York Times bestsellers, executives and fashion designers. Ms. Link is the founder of Link4Productions Media and Entertainment. She serves as on on-air digital media journalist. Her media writing and on-air work include Bold TV, National Mortgage News, Tribes art reviews, and the New York Observer.