Airbnb Tries More Self-Regulation In New York, Too

Image courtesy of Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

If the vacation-booking site Airbnb has to be regulated, it at least wants to impose regulations on itself instead of having local governments do it. While the company is starting to self-regulate in San Francisco and cooperated with the city to make rules in Chicago, it also proposed rules for itself in New York.

While the service has been the most controversial in New York City and the company’s global head of public policy sent an op-ed to one of the city’s newsppaers, the proposed rules would apply statewide.

In large cities where housing is scarce and expensive, which include New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, the main criticism of Airbnb is that it allows landlords to very easily turn apartments into housing for travelers, depriving cities of hotel tax revenue and taking housing units off the market.

The company’s measure of only allowing hosts to rent one property in San Francisco is intended to stop that use of the site, and the company’s proposal for New York includes a similar provision.

The proposal includes:

  • Allowing each host to rent only one home in the five boroughs of New York City, which would allow people to occasionally rent out their whole apartment and to rent rooms or suites, but eliminate the pseudo-hotel phenomenon.
  • Registration with the state, where Airbnb would be allowed to provide new hosts’ information to the state and complete the registration for them instead of having a separate process.
  • Letting landlords make their own rules for short-term rentals, and setting up a revenue-sharing arrangement so landlords get part of the money for building-wide maintenance.
  • Protecting against bad renters with insurance policies and require a hotline for neighbors to complain. This part of the proposal requires rental sites to have a staffed 24-hour hotline for emergencies and complaints: that would mean startups without hotlines couldn’t facilitate rentals in New York.
  • Having Airbnb collect taxes and remit them to cities and states in New York. Theoretically, hosts are supposed to be collecting taxes now, but making it part of the site would simplify the process.
  • Airbnb proposes new set of rules in New York ahead of possible regulation [MarketWatch]
    Overhaul the laws for home-sharing: Airbnb proposes new rules for New York [New York Daily News]

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