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Crain’s New York: Cuomo signs anti-Airbnb bill, but its effects are uncertain

From Crain’s New York:

Rental platform says new law will not drastically cut into its business in New York

A bill to ban Airbnb ads scored Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature Friday after a drawn-out battle pitting the tech giant against hotels, the real estate industry and affordable-housing advocates.

Airbnb fought hard to win over Cuomo, even running advertisements in Philadelphia taxicabs during the Democratic National Convention this summer urging him to veto the bill. After he signed, the company immediately said it would sue the city and state, apparently to limit or prevent enforcement of the measure.

But Airbnb also says the new law will not pull the rug out from under its business in New York.

The bill bans listings for rentals that are already illegal under a 2010 law: sublets of fewer than 30 days in Class A multiple dwellings, which are apartment buildings with three or more units. Many Airbnb listings fall outside of that category, according to the company.

“There are so many uses on the platform and the scope of the multiple-dwelling law is so narrow that it’s likely that they’re mostly legal,” Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels said.

Many hosts stay on the premises and rent out a room or couch, which is legal, he noted. Others sublet row houses or other homes not covered by the 2010 law. Some rent for stretches beyond 30 days.

What remains to be seen is how enforceable the advertisement ban will be. If listings do not specify short-term and that the owner will not be on-site, for example, illegal rentals could continue to evade the government’s grasp.

But the restriction does introduce a fear factor that did not exist before, as lawbreaking hosts and not just their landlords will face fines under the new listings law.

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