(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. sued New York seeking to block a municipal law set to go into effect next month that will require hosts to register for an operating license, saying it is a “de facto ban” against short-term rentals in the largest US city.
Local Law 18, which was passed in January 2022, “chills short-term rentals by requiring extensive and intrusive disclosures of personal information and forcing open-ended agreement to labyrinthine regulations scattered across a complex web of laws, codes, and regulations,” the company said in a complaint filed Thursday in state court in Manhattan.
Airbnb claims the law imposes “massive burdens” on booking services by forcing on them the responsibility to ensure hosts are registered and to provide transaction reports, under the threat of large civil penalties.
“Taken together, these features of the registration scheme appear intended to drive the short-term rental trade out of New York City once and for all,” the company said.
The city said it review the Airbnb suit. Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is “committed to protecting safety and community livability for residents, preserving permanent housing stock, and ensuring our hospitality sector can continue to recover and thrive,” according to a statement from City Hall.
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“The rules governing short-term rentals, codified in both city and state law, have been clear for years,” New York said, noting that rules were implemented by the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement following the adoption of the law by the City Council. “We have consistently worked with hosts and platforms to ensure they were aware of their requirements under the law.”
According to Airbnb, the new rule breaks two earlier settlements it reached with the city, including a 2016 agreement over restrictions prohibiting advertising of short-term rentals and a 2020 deal loosening a requirement that the company submit monthly reports detailing information about its transactions.
Airbnb has been fighting with the city for years over rules limiting short-term rentals. At the same time, New York has made some high-profile crackdowns on illegal Airbnb empires, issuing almost $9 million in fines in 2021. With some of the strictest regulations in the country, New York essentially forbids rentals in most apartments for fewer than 30 days without a tenant present.
The case is Airbnb Inc. v New York City Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, 154865/2023, New York State Supreme Court, New York County.
(Updates with comment from the city in fifth and sixth paragraphs.)
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