Airbnb: We Will Work With New York to Protect Affordable Housing

The home sharing company says it wants to cooperate with New York State to fight landlords who use the service to keep apartments off the rental market

Airbnb says it wants to cooperate with New York State.

Airbnb says it wants to cooperate with New York State to fight landlords who use the service to keep apartments off the rental market. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Airbnb is working with municipalities worldwide, including New York City, to create comprehensive regulations that support responsible home sharing, public safety and the integrity of the permanent housing market.

Indeed, contrary to many reports  including an article by Steven Hill in the Observer, Airbnb is working cooperatively with cities—from London and Chicago, to Amsterdam and New Orleans—sharing data with regulators to help them enforce local laws, while also implementing features on our website that support sensible home sharing policies.

Right here in New York City, we’re providing monthly public data report and released raw data about our entire New York community in September. Moreover, as part of a recent settlement agreement, the City and Airbnb agreed to “work cooperatively on ways to address New York City’s permanent housing shortage, including through host compliance with Airbnb’s ‘One Host, One Home’ policy.”

Airbnb created One Host, One Home to make sure that home sharing does not remove housing from the market. Under this program, Airbnb limits NYC hosts to a single, entire home listing. Since last November, we have removed over 3,600 listings that violate this policy. As a result, 96 percent of Airbnb hosts in NYC share a single home.

One Host One Home is a cornerstone of our comprehensive policy proposal—Sharing for a Stronger New York—which seeks changes to state law that would embrace responsible hosts who share their homes, while cracking down on the commercial operators and large landlords who threaten to remove permanent housing from the rental market.

The vast majority of New Yorkers recognize the difference between a middle-class family sharing their home and a landlord who evicts tenants to churn apartments as full-time short-term rentals.

At a recent hearing, dozens of hosts from across the City urged the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to focus its efforts on these commercial actors, not the senior hosts on fixed incomes who rely on hosting to pay medical bills and remain in their communities, the Millennials trying to pay off student debt, or the families in predominantly African-American communities across the five boroughs.

It was heartening to hear that even some of our most strident critics agreed with our hosts—urging the Office of Special Enforcement to focus on “[t]hose who either are building owners who warehouse empty apartments; or individuals who lease multiple apartments in many buildings.”

The bottom line is that the vast majority of New Yorkers recognize the difference between a middle-class family sharing their home and a landlord who evicts tenants to churn apartments as full-time short-term rentals. The public—and Airbnb—strongly support efforts to crack down on and opposes the latter. It is long past time for New York State law to recognize this fundamental distinction.

Moreover, our comprehensive reform plan would create a mandatory registration system to aid enforcement efforts, while ensuring that lodging and sales taxes are automatically collected on short-term rentals.

That’s common sense, and it could mean big money for the State—nearly $100 million in the first year alone, which can be dedicated to homeless services (as it is in Chicago and Los Angeles) or affordable housing (as it is in New Orleans).

As the calendar turns to 2017, we look forward to continuing our conversations with New York on ways to strengthen enforcement against the truly bad actors, while taking the fight to the State Legislature for comprehensive reform that protects the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who rely on sharing their homes to make ends meet.

Josh Meltzer is the head of New York Public Policy for Airbnb.

Airbnb: We Will Work With New York to Protect Affordable Housing