Dueling rallies greeted a bill introduced in the City Council Thursday to crack down on home rental company Airbnb.
The new legislation had 38 sponsors Thursday – more than enough to pass the 51-member Council.
The bill would require Airbnb to hand over the names and addresses of all its listings to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
But the company is fiercely resisting the measure, which has dramatically cut down its business in other cities where it’s been enacted.
It’s against the law in New York state to rent an entire apartment in a building with four or more units for less than 30 days, a provision that makes many Airbnb listings illegal.
Renting out a room within an apartment, on the other hand, is legal, as is renting a single family home.
The firm is fiercely resisting the legislation, accusing the enforcement office of overly aggressive tactics.
Rallies on City Hall steps pro & anti #Airbnb legislation requiring it to turn over host names & addresses to the city. 31 councilmembers in favor, to fight illegal rentals. Legit @Airbnb hosts expressing privacy & oversight concerns w/office of special enforcement. #1010WINS pic.twitter.com/IcJ0MdqJfp
— Sonia Rincón (@SoniaRincon) June 7, 2018
“What’s going on with the Office of Special Enforcement is disgusting. We’re being harassed. We’re being given summonses in amounts that commercial properties don’t get,” said Lee Thomas, an Airbnb host in Ozone Park, Queens and president of the Home Sharing Association of America.
Rev. Johnnie Greene warned Council members who back the bill will be targeted.
“There will be repercussions. We will make sure that at election time we are in your district letting the people know who you serve,” he said.
There are powerful interests on both sides, with the bill supported by the influential Hotel Trades Council.
“Despite Airbnb spending millions of dollars on television to tell you differently, our legislation will have zero effect on families who legally use these platforms to make ends meet,” said Councilman Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera speaks at a rally in support of the bill at City Hall on June 7, 2018.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera speaks at a rally in support of the bill at City Hall on June 7, 2018. (NYC Council via Twitter)
“This is about the landlords who warehouse units, who take rent regulated units off the market and rent them out illegally.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson is behind the legislation, making it likely it will pass. The hotel union was a major backer of Johnson’s campaign to become speaker.
“It’s a bill that is really all about transparency,” Johnson said Thursday, adding he had been involved in the fight against illegal hotels long before getting the support of HTC.
“They supported me not because they thought I was going to do what they wanted – they supported me because I had a track record, a history of being on the right side of the issues long before they ever met me,” he said.