For many travelers, Airbnb has replaced hotels and motels when searching for a place to stay. And for many homeowners and apartment renters, the platform has provided a little extra income. But for municipalities, many of whom regulate short-term rentals both for consumer protection and tax collection, Airbnb’s business has been frustratingly impenetrable.
Finally, the Big Apple is going to get access to Airbnb’s books. The New York City Council recently passed a new law requiring Airbnb and similar lodging platforms to share data on their users. So, what kind of info is NYC looking for?
Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to sign the bill, but once enacted, Airbnb will be required to collect and report the following on a monthly basis, lest the company face a $1,500 fine:
- Name, physical address, email, Airbnb profile URL, and phone number of hosts active that month;
- Addresses and URLs of any properties a given host rents out, and whether it was a full-home or partial-home rental; and
- Total days the property was rented, rent/price paid, and any fees collected by Airbnb.
Needless to say, Airbnb wasn’t too pleased with the city council’s vote. “After taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry, we’re not surprised the City Council refused to meet with their own constituents who rely on home sharing to pay the bills and then voted to protect the profits of big hotels,” said Airbnb spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco. “The fix was in from the start and now New Yorkers will be subject to unchecked, aggressive harassment and privacy violations, rubber stamped by the City Council.”
Airbnb’s users aren’t too happy either. Many of them may not be too keen on the city having access to income they might not otherwise like to report, and those that are illegally subletting their apartments won’t want their landlords finding out. And, according to Curbed, one NYC host has already filed a lawsuit claiming that the legislation is a violation of his civil rights.