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City Council passes Airbnb bill that will regulate NYC host activity

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The proposed law has already prompted a lawsuit

On Wednesday, City Council voted unanimously to advance a bill that intends to restrict short-term rental services like Airbnb by requiring New York City hosts to register information with the city’s Office of Special Enforcement, reports the New York Times.

The bill was proposed around May and, if passed, would function as a way to prevent landlords and tenants from operating illegal hotels while also protecting affordable housing from “bad actors.” On a monthly basis, companies like Airbnb would have to provide the city with addresses for their listings, as well as provide full names of hosts, primary addresses, and information on whether people are renting out their entire home or just rooms. If they fail to comply, companies could face fines up to $1,500 for each listing they don’t disclose.

Airbnb opposed the bill, stating that it hurts New Yorkers who utilize the platform as a way of earning extra income to help make ends meet. The company has also accused City Council members of profiting from the hotel industry through campaign contributions, which they say have been an incentive to push for anti-Airbnb laws.

“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.”

The proposed bill has also prompted a new lawsuit from Sunset Park resident and Airbnb host Stanley (Skip) Karol, claiming that the legislation is a violation of civil rights. Karol uses the platform to rent out a portion of his two-family home in Sunset Park and says the money earned supplements his limited income from disability payments.

Last year, Office of Special Enforcement investigators visited Karol at his home, which he called a “frightening experience.” In June, he testified at a Council meeting to express his opposition to the proposed bill and claims that the city has been retaliating against him ever since.

“Of all the Airbnb listings in the entire city, the City chose to go after mine—just days after I raised concerns that their hotel-backed legislation could jeopardize my privacy and rights,” said Karol in a statement. “I believe that the City has sought to silence me, by not only saddling me with massive fines, but also making me feel unsafe in my own home.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio must now signed the bill before it will become a law.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that Airbnb hosts would have to provide the city with information and could incur fines if they didn’t comply. The article has been updated to reflect that companies would be responsible for submitting the information. Curbed regrets the error.