Do The Right Thing

Airbnb has been operating in NYC and NY State for about ten years now and yet we still don’t have comprehensive home sharing legislation on the books in NY State. The reason is that the enemies of Airbnb, mostly the hotel employee unions, have been fighting Airbnb’s existence in NY State very effectively in Albany.

Many of the largest cities in the US and around the world now have comprehensive home sharing legislation on the books. It makes sense. It allows homeowners to share their homes legally and earn extra income but it also protects neighbors and neighborhoods from bad actors who abuse the system.

It is time for the folks in Albany to join that group and put fair and balanced and serious home sharing legislation on the books.

The good news is that we have good comprehensive bills before both houses of the state legislature right now.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and Senator James Skoufis have recently proposed comprehensive regulations for short term rentals in NY State.

An increasing number of New Yorkers rely on home sharing services not only when they travel, but also for the additional income they generate by opening up their homes here in New York.

The bills proposed by Lentol and Skoufis will create fair and restrictive rules to govern short-term home rentals in New York. Existing NYC legislation has unfairly penalized everyday New Yorkers for sharing their homes and left many confused about the law.

The proposed legislation bans short-term rentals in all affordable housing and also limits NYC residents to listing only one home. The bills also mandate data-sharing with New York City to boost transparency and enable NYC agents to target and take action against bad actors abusing the system.

The proposed legislation also allows Airbnb to collect and remit taxes on behalf of its users. Currently, NY State is missing out on badly needed tax revenue.

It is time for the NY State Legislature and Governor to pass clear and commonsense legislation to safely and responsibly regulate the home sharing industry. I would like to acknowledge Assemblyman Lentol and Senator Skoufis who have the common sense and courage to lead the way.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Changing laws and regulation is so tough everywhere. It’s like once something in put in place, they never want to change it, no matter what changes around it. Eg, legalizing marijuana, legalizing gay marriage, legalizing tokens, etc , the list goes on. I wished all laws had an expiry date, forcing legislators to seriously re-assess them on a regular basis.

    1. jason wright

      I like your expiry date idea. I would like to see more direct public consultation on specific issues. Brexit!

      1. William Mougayar


    2. kenberger

      maybe all new laws should be written as smart contracts? (and maintained on the blockchain, of course)

      1. William Mougayar

        lol. Some of them need to have a sunset. i think there’s a colorado politician that has proposed that. it would make the legislators’ jobs harder.

      2. jason wright

        perhaps all news should be published as smart contracts?

        1. kenberger

          there are believers who promote that use case, too.

      3. Matt Zagaja

        Is this solving a real problem?

        1. kenberger

          I wasn’t totally kidding. I could see a real use case, in time, where this sort of solution could make legal systems more robust by allowing the tracking, ownership of documents, and “smart logic” to account for changes in future, as Wm alluded to.

    3. ShanaC

      it is good to rethink laws, but I am not sure expiry dates are the answer. a lot of us policy has it due to the relationship between laws and the budget

  2. Pete Griffiths

    They recently banned short term airbnb like services in Palma Mallorca. Home sharing is out. The only way to get short term rights is to basically turn yourself into a hotel – a long expensive arduous process.The hotel lobby played a significant part in it but it was also locals who are concerned about people buying to rent and diminishing the available housing stock for them.

  3. awaldstein

    (The nod to Spike Lee in the title did not go unnoticed Fred.)Good, it is needed. No one in NYC homeowner or not is not impacted by AirBnB and doesn’t have an opinion on this.What surprises me is that there is so little outreach to the residents–aka me!–for input.I’m sure it happens but in the busyness of life, I rarely see it.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      This kind of outreach is a large part of the purpose of the software I work on in my day to day government job. Unfortunately government does not have have a big group of folks that are talented at marketing. They’re very good at reaching out to “usual suspects” but struggle to break out of their box. When your day to day work overwhelms your bandwidth its challenging for folks to be creative.

  4. popbijoux

    I sure hope this doesn’t pass. HAVE YOU EVER LIVED IN A BUILDING WHERE AIRBNB GUESTS HAVE STAYED?!!! I have and it’s the worst. They leave trash everywhere and it’s up to us to deal and PAY when airbnb makes a 30% cut. It’s the same ol’ “gig economy” bs. I live in an expensive building in Greenwich Village and it’s a co-op. We all own the building. Nothing destroys the sense of community like a hotel atmosphere and the greedy tech company.

    1. Richard

      This will all backfire, a wealth tax is coming.

    2. William Mougayar

      Hmm. You don’t think that the owner who is renting it bears responsibility as well? If the building is high-end, I would make sure the guests being approved can meet these standards. We have stayed in numerous AirBnB’s around the world, and we treat every place as if it was our own. We often leave it cleaner than how we found it.

      1. Salt Shaker

        How does an owner vet a prospective renter’s character? You can’t. I’ve benefited from staying in Airbnb’s, and like you I’m considerate, but I’ve also observed firsthand in residences where I have lived the downside of building rules being breached. Building security systems safeguard against illegal entry, but many don’t think twice about letting complete strangers stay in their homes cause they fundamentally can foot the bill. Airbnb is easier to implement in private residences but in multi-unit dwellings it’s a slippery slope.

      2. notes

        well, let’s not get started with the one person on the board who is a psychopath and is suing the board (or so he says)…he owns several units and if it were up to him, he’d rent them all out as AirBnBs…The problem is also that while AirBnB can be cheaper than hotels it’s not exactly cheap. Why should they bother to learn that you can’t leave recyclable trash by the door or other small things that make it inconvenient to have guests…when it’s a transient situation.To give you an idea my building studio apartments rent for about $3,400 a month. I would imagine the price to rent an apt from AirBnB through one of those would be something like 300-400 per night or more. I can see why I would choose to rent an apt over a hotel room but if I were paying this much I would not care too much about what the neighbors’s human nature. It’s fascinating that the same libertarian ideology that preaches take as much as you can and hell to everyone, won’t account for this. If it’s true that it’s a winner takes it all world and all regulations are bad, then there are no communities left to exploit.I suggest all VCs and AirBnB listen to Axios’ podcast a couple of days ago about why Microsoft has survived the techlash relatively unscathed. It wasn’t pushing cities around, hiring troll farms to spread talking points or finger-wagging about regulations; they had already paid the price decades earlier and learnt from the experience.

  5. popbijoux

    Also now that you gave their names Im going to call them and pass their names on to whoever stopped Amazon hehehe. hey AOC some people in Albany need to replaced…The last thing NYC needs is this. Does your building have tenants that do this?!!! None of the super rich VCS like Fred have to deal with this, you either live in a co-op that wont allow these types of rentals ( hello: eviction:) OR you live in a brownstone. It’s easy to say when you don’t walk the talk.

  6. TeddyBeingTeddy

    Seems that companies like Air B&B should get rewarded for trying to comply with laws and work with the government. Vs the old “grow so fast, without permission, that they can’t stop you” strategy (ahem: Uber).

    1. Richard

      Scooters – no bigger pest on the sidewalks of LA.

    2. scottythebody

      AirBnB had the same strategy early on. It was only after they started getting hassled that they started worrying about permission. “Permission-less innovation” often means behaving like an asshole until you’re caught. But it’s necessary to “do” anything in so many cases and also to get the necessary regulatory bodies to react.

  7. LIAD

    you say home-sharing, i saw illegal short-term rentals. – patriot act, death tax etc – narrative and branding is everything. – hard to vote against home-sharing, easy to block illegal short-term rentals.

    1. Richard

      Pub much?

  8. jason wright

    Are you going to Airbnb your fire resistant timber apartments when they’re ready?

  9. LIAD

    https://uploads.disquscdn.c…New Yorkers – nothing if not hospitable.- let’s just say, i wasn’t super comfortable continuing to stay in the apartment after having this pinned to the door of my airbnb back in the day

    1. jason wright

      I would be squeezing superglue in keyholes.

    2. ShanaC

      i can’t say they are wrong vis a vis people skirting hotel regulations in places where people live full time. this is a mess

    3. Matt Zagaja

      That’s pretty tame compared to the anti-AirBnb graffiti I encountered in Coimbra, Portugal.

  10. Richard

    Mr Selfish! Stop incentivizing increases in housing prices in cities. It’s simply not cool if you stay in a Airbnb.

    1. Mark Gavagan

      @SagacityHappens:disqus , While there are certainly important issues that must be ironed-out, I stay in Airbnb’s regularly and I don’t agree that doing so is necessarily a problem, or somehow wrong or immoral. Like most complex issues, it depends…

      1. Richard

        I agree it depends – but what we can all agree on is that the practice of Airbnb only increases the cost of entry of home ownership as the marginal home can be bid up by the Airbnb participant, reduces home ownership for startup families – who would find it too risky to rent their home, and makes it more difficult for single women to purchase home (again for the same reason).We should all be working to lower the cost of homes. It is a idle asset – a tax -on the economy.Mr Selfish of course doesn’t worry about these externalities.

        1. Mark Gavagan

          I’m afraid I can’t agree with you.The truth is that I don’t really know, because beneath the surface, everything is so complicated. Every change creates tons of consequences (positive and negative, intended and otherwise), especially in a massive and dynamic place like NYC.For example, Manhattan’s new 2nd Avenue subway and the High Line will drive up the demand in their neighborhoods, and thus housing prices there will rise. Is this bad? In some respects yes, and in others no. Increasing rents increase the value of buildings, which increases tax revenue.Prices, of course, reflect supply and demand.When you say that “we should all be working to lower the cost of homes,” I’m not sure lowering demand (i.e., completely eliminating Airbnb rentals) is the right approach.Instead, why not focus on (1) making other areas more desirable (better schools, parks, transportation, safety, grocery stores, etc.), so there’s more demand elsewhere; and (2) sensibly increasing supply (e.g., allowing much smaller micro-studio apartments, so more people (profitably) fit in the same square footage)?That said, I do think short-term rentals should be properly and thoughtfully regulated.

  11. jason wright

    Juxtaposition time.Imagine a city composed of timber framed buildings, and now introduce legal ‘crash and dash’ Airbnb occupancy. Thinking about Nassim Taleb, how will the city (as a system) react to the addition of Airbnb’s volatility? Will the city exhibit fragility, robustness, or antifragility? I think it will burn to the ground (fragility). The sensibilities of residents are equally fragile.

  12. BillMcNeely

    Down here in Arlington, TX the city where the Cowsboys play, most Airbnb rentals have been banned. More here:

  13. BillMcNeely

    Products like NoiseAware ( a Dallas based startup) could go along way to reducing noise complaints

  14. Pointsandfigures

    Good luck. Not hopeful. They crushed it pretty badly in Chicago and in Austin.

  15. Pointsandfigures

    Coase Theorem would tell you if property rights are clearly assigned and bargaining costs are zero whatever AirBnb decides with it’s customer is best for everyone. There are some negative externalities for sure and independent buildings could embrace it ban it impacting their value

  16. ShanaC

    Does it have a policy for what are effectively mini-hotel companies?

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Think it’s definitely worth thinking about these in a different way than a single person renting out one dwelling unit.

  17. Rob Larson

    It sounds like you are suggesting that people who rent out many homes at once are “bad actors who abuse the system”. Many cities seem to share that point of view given restrictions they have implemented.But I’m curious why you might think that? If one person is skilled at renting out and managing short term rentals, shouldn’t we let the market support that activity? I can’t see what is wrong with it. Or maybe I misinterpret you.I will grant that people who list units in apartment complexes where there are rules against such activities are bad actors. But most cities don’t seem to care about whether renters are breaking shared building rules – they seek to ban all rentals except a single home, and in boston the renter has to live in the home being let out. Strikes me as being unnecessarily restrictive.

    1. scottythebody

      Just another way to squeeze the middle class while shuffling all the benefits to the already wealthy.

  18. JLM

    .This is a zoning issue and a building code issue — both existing areas of municipal police powers that are well understood and regulated.Both zoning and building codes are promulgated at the local level whereat individual occupancy permits and building permits are granted, administered, and enforced.Zoning codes provide the basis for building usage. A zoning classification provides for residential and commercial uses, as an example.Zoning classifications may be single family residential, multi-family residential (a commercial classification), hotel, retail, industrial, manufacturing, and storage uses. They also include governmental uses such as schools.These uses mandate different levels of service — utilities (water, wastewater, electric, gas, communications, garbasge), police, fire — and they also mandate different levels of construction.This is how the zoing code and the building code are related and correlated.This is where much of the issue falls afoul of the zoning and building codes — there is no zoning classification that allows for a single family residential/part time hotel occupancy.Hotels — a high occupancy type of zoning — are served differently and built differently.Simple things like door width are different between a single family residence and a hotel wherein a large number of persons may have to move to safety with little familiarity with the facility and through a single path of egress (fire stairs, as an example).A hotel occupancy would require fire sprinkler protection including smoke detectors, fire annunciation, and a commercial grade fire pump connection on the outside of the building.Fire compartmentalization would require 4-hours walls and compartmentalization.Single family residential would not require fire protection, but would require smoke detectors. So — no sprinklers, fire annunciation, or commercial grade fire pump connection unless used as a hotel.It is heavy handed for a state to seize control of the local zoning and building codes as they are not the original promulgator of these codes nor are they the enforcer of these codes.It is a power grab intended to thwart local control — always a bad thing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  19. Joel Natividad

    Because of perverse incentives, “self-regulation” doesn’t really work. And even when regulations make it to the books, governments are ill-equipped to catch “bad actors” unless there are whistle blowers (which are very rare) as govt agencies are technologically mismatched.Perhaps, they should have a “free market” for tips (like Crimestoppers but with more serious money) that incentivizes third parties to keep companies in line, with the rewards directly being funded by the fines exacted from the offending company.As evinced by AirBnB “sanitizing” their data before giving it to NYC in 2016…, a lot of these companies already know who the really bad actors are, and they hide behind their “Terms & Conditions” as a legal shield.