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Airbnb, City Closer to Joining Forces Against Illegal Hotels

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City Council is finally making some headway with its major foe, Airbnb. The short-term rental website has agreed to discuss sharing data that would help the city crack down on those who are taking advantage of the site by running illegal hotels out of buildings that would otherwise house New Yorkers, the Daily News reports. The development comes after a particularly brutal City Council hearing, wherein council members slammed Airbnb for "turning a blind eye" to how users were abusing the website, the Post says. "You know that a large percent of your revenue comes from people who are doing this illegally," Councilman Jumaane Williams said to Airbnb's head of global policy, Chris Lehane, who testified at the meeting, but at the time couldn't present customer data.

A committee headed by Williams heard more than five hours of testimony on three bills that are aimed at reforming the abusive practices of Airbnb and other short-term rental site users, the Post says. A bill proposed by Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal would double the maximum fine for site abusers from $25,000 to $50,000. "I came here thinking $50,000 [fines] were an overreach, but after hearing your testimony, maybe it's not," Williams said to Lehane. Lehane rallied against the bills, saying they were an "extreme measure that shocks the conscience" and hurts the middle-class residents using the website. In short, the City Council still hates Airbnb, but they're beginning to make some headway with the website.
· Airbnb agrees to discuss sharing data with officials to crack down on illegal operators [NYDN]
· Councilman threatens $100K fines on Airbnb's 'illegal hotels' [NYP]
· Thanks to Airbnb, There Are More Pricey Short-Term Rentals [Curbed]
· In Popular NYC Neighborhoods, 1 in 5 Apartments Is On Airbnb [Curbed]
· All Airbnb coverage [Curbed]