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Manhattan judge blocks NYC law regulating Airbnb activity

The new law required Airbnb and similar companies to hand over detailed information to the city on a monthly basis

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Last Thursday, a Manhattan judge blocked new legislation, aimed at requiring Airbnb and other short-term listing sites to disclose information about hosts and listings on a monthly basis, from going into effect next month, reports the New York Times.

Back in July, City Council voted unanimously to advance a bill that made it mandatory for companies like Airbnb to provide the city’s Office of Special Enforcement with addresses for their listings, full names of hosts, primary addresses, and information on whether people are renting out their entire home or just rooms. If they failed to comply, companies could face fines up to $1,500 for each undisclosed listing.

The law quickly prompted a lawsuit from Airbnb and listing site HomeAway, claiming that the bill was unconstitutional and would hurt New Yorkers who utilize the platform as a way of earning extra income to help make ends meet. The companies asked for an injunction, which was granted by judge Paul A. Engelmayer, who called the legislation a violation of the guarantee against illegal searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment.

“The city has not cited any decision suggesting that the governmental appropriation of private business records on such a scale, unsupported by individualized suspicion or any tailored justification, qualifies as a reasonable search and seizure,” wrote judge Engelmayer in his 52-page ruling.

Airbnb spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco called the decision a “huge win for Airbnb and its users,” stating that the court “recognized the fundamental importance of New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to privacy and the sanctity of their own homes.”

The injunction will remain in effect until the litigation is resolved, however, city officials are confident that the new law will ultimately prevail. Spokesperson Jacob Tugendrajch, for City Council speaker Corey Johnson, said that the Council plans to continue “the fight for this common sense, data-driven law.”