Following Governor Cuomo’s signing of the anti-tenant, anti-middle class advertising bill in New York, Airbnb issued the following statement:
“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. 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.”
We’ve also prepared a list of frequently asked questions.
The Governor’s statement referred to uncollected tax revenue. Do you pay taxes in New York?
We were as perplexed as we were puzzled to read the Governor’s statement as we have offered to collect and remit hotel taxes — which should send more than $90 million to the city and state of New York every year — dating back to 2014. In the time since, we have entered into agreements with more than 200 jurisdictions globally to collect and remit hotel taxes, most recently in New Orleans last night and Los Angeles early this summer. Just as we have been for more than two years, we are ready and willing to collect and remit taxes in New York as soon as the state gives us the authority to do so.
What does this law mean for New Yorkers?
This bill creates an additional fine for violating an existing law. In 2010, the State Legislature passed a law that placed fines on short term rentals of entire apartments in buildings with three units or more. The bill signed today creates a fine that can be levied against anyone who advertises a short term rental that would be in violation of the 2010 law. Only entire home listings in “Class A” buildings (three-plus family units) are subject to these additional fines.
What does this mean for Airbnb in New York?
Despite these new rules, the majority of Airbnb listings are legal in New York City and New Yorkers remain free to list their home on our platform. Our concern with this bill has always been that it exacerbates an existing problem: New York law fails to distinguish between everyday New Yorkers who occasionally share their home and commercial operators who remove permanent housing from the market. Just this week New South Wales (Sydney) and New Orleans passed sensible and comprehensive home sharing laws.
Are you filing a lawsuit?
Yes. On Friday afternoon, we filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. We will be represented by California-based Munger, Tolles & Olson as well as New York-based Gibson Dunn. As outlined in our September 6, 2016 letter to Governor Cuomo, we are confident the state’s advertising bill is in direct violation of the Federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. The bill also violates the home rule clause of the New York State Constitution. The bill bears a striking resemblance to a similar ordinance banning advertising in Anaheim, CA; we filed suit against the city of Anaheim and the city immediately agreed to stop enforcing any of the provisions aimed at platforms, recognizing that its ordinance violated the CDA.
What is the future of Airbnb in New York?
We are currently exploring a range of additional product and policy solutions that would give our hosts more ways to list their New York properties while we pursue our case. In addition to believing that the law is fundamentally flawed in its approach, we believe that New York has also severely overreached by passing an ordinance that purports to limit advertising both inside and outside of the State.
What will this bill mean for Airbnb’s global business?
Airbnb has over 2.5 million listings around the world in 191 countries and 34,000 municipalities. New York City is certainly one of our largest markets but we are a global company that is working with governments around the world to create sensible policies for home sharing. We are moving forward with the rest of the world, while New York is moving backward.
Will you remove illegal listings or allow people to post listings that violate the law?
We have always asked everyone in our community to follow all their local laws before they list their space and we will continue to do so, but the way the current law is confusing to most New Yorkers and there is no way it can be reflected on the platform. Many entire home listings in New York City are legal, and private room and shared space rentals are permissible as well. We remain committed to working with lawmakers to find a comprehensive solution that allows New Yorkers to share their own home while cracking down on commercial operators.
Will you shut down your website in New York?
Absolutely not. The vast majority of hosts in New York City share only their own home and Airbnb is an economic lifeline for thousands of these middle class people.
Earlier this week Airbnb released policy recommendations. Will you continue to push for them now that the bill has been signed?
Yes. We are committed to working with elected officials to find a sensible alternative to the current law. We are proud to have put forward what we think is a strong proposal that works for all stakeholders.
Will Airbnb follow through with legal action against the State of New York?
Yes. This law violates the First Amendment rights of New Yorkers and the Communications Decency Act. As a result, we are pursuing legal action against the State of New York and are seeking an injunction to prevent the bill from taking effect.
Portrait of the New York host community
- 46,000 hosts in New York state, generating over $2 billion in economic activity.
- 78% of Airbnb hosts in New York earn low, moderate, or middle incomes.
- 72% of Airbnb hosts in New York use the money they earn sharing their space to stay in their homes.
- 21,000 Millennial hosts in New York City earned nearly $158 million last year.
- Many used this supplemental income to pay down student debt– in fact, the typical annual earning for a Millennial host in NYC is $6,008 which represents nearly 20% of the average student debt burden of New York graduates
- The number of senior (60+) hosts in New York State grew faster than any other age group between 2015-2016.
- The typical senior host in New York shared their home for 37 nights in the last year, supplementing their Social Security and retirement savings with $7,100 in host income.
- Collectively, senior hosts in the Empire State earned over $19 million over the past year.
- Hosts in the 30 NYC ZIP Codes with the largest percentage of Black residents earned $43 million last year.
- The number of Airbnb guests grew 78 percent year-over-year in the 30 NYC zip codes with the largest percentage of black residents compared, to 50 percent city-wide.
- The typical income of a host in NYC’s low-income neighborhoods is over $4,500, providing the equivalent of a 13 percent boost to the median household income in these communities.
- The median household in a low-income NYC neighborhood can increase its income by 10 percent simply by renting their home for just three days a month.