For more than a year, our host community advocated for common-sense home sharing laws in New York. Hosts have formed clubs, canvassed their neighbors, organized rallies and engaged in informative and productive conversations with lawmakers on why home sharing is an economic lifesaver for their families and thousands of fellow New Yorkers struggling to get by in an increasingly expensive city.
Today, New York lawmakers, led by Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Brooklyn, offered a path forward by introducing a bill (A-7520) that would legalize short term rentals for the vast majority of New Yorkers who share their home, while cracking down on the bad actors who threaten to remove permanent housing from the rental market. This bill is critical to securing the right to earn extra income through home sharing and it is a sign that the sharing economy is here to stay.
Today over 100 hosts from all corners of the state – from Buffalo to the Bronx, Staten Island to Ithaca – will gather at the State Capitol to lobby their representatives in support of this bill. These hosts, some of whom will board buses at 3 AM to reach Albany, will meet with over 50 lawmakers to share their personal stories of how sharing their home helps pay the rent, save for retirement, start a small business and pay off student loans.
Below are the four basic elements of the proposed bill:
- ONE HOST, ONE HOME: At the heart of the bill is a set of regulations codifying Airbnb’s “One Host, One Home” (OHOH) provision into law. It would limit short-term rental hosts to listing just one home on any home sharing platform within New York City. Airbnb has already taken steps to limit commercial actors — removing over 4,200 listings for violating OHOH since November, 2015.
- Furthermore, as of November 1, 2016, Airbnb bars hosts from advertising more than one entire space listing in NYC on its platform. As a result, 96 percent of NYC Airbnb hosts who share an entire space have only one listing. A legislative proposal would extend OHOH to all home sharing platforms, not just Airbnb, and subject violators to significant fines.
- SIMPLE, MANDATORY REGISTRATION: The bill would create a simple, streamlined registration system for short term rental hosts. The proposal would authorize platforms like Airbnb to register hosts on their behalf (known as “pass-through registration”). Doing so will increase accountability and enhance the ability of government to enforce against bad actors. Airbnb has successfully implemented pass-through registration programs in Chicago and New Orleans.
- GOOD NEIGHBORS RULES: Under this bill, all hosts would be required to provide insurance (either individually or through their chosen platform) and platforms would be required to create a dedicated 24/7 hotline to address any concerns that arise from neighbors or others as a result of short term rentals. In addition, the proposal imposes a “three strikes” policy that would bar a host from renting a property as a short term rental if he or she repeatedly violates city and/or state regulations. Airbnb also believes that to be a good host, one must be a good neighbor. That’s why we already provide overlapping $1 million insurance policies as part of its Host Guarantee and Host Protection Insurance Program and recently launched the Neighbors Tool, which allows any individual to notify Airbnb of complaints concerning home sharing.
- PAY TOURIST TAXES TO SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Lastly, the proposal would make it easier for the Airbnb community to pay all applicable local and state taxes by allowing platforms to collect and remit taxes from guests on their behalf. Airbnb has crafted voluntary tax agreements in 275 jurisdictions globally, including twelve New York counties, generating over $240 million to support various public services. This new revenue could be explicitly dedicated to tenant protection, affordable housing, or addressing homelessness, as is the case in New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland.
Underscoring the massive impact home sharing has on the state’s economy, HR&A released a report unveiling the far reach of the Airbnb host community. In 2016, Airbnb generated $3.5 billion in economic activity throughout the state and supported over 38,000 jobs. Here are some of the key findings:
- $2 billion in direct guest spending
- 2 million guests
- $160 million in state sales, income, and business tax revenue
- 46% of guests said they would not have come to New York or would not have been able to stay as long were it not for Airbnb
- 78% of guests said Airbnb makes them more likely to visit again
One thing is clear from all these developments: home sharing is gaining momentum in New York. More hosts are coming together to help their representatives realize the tremendous, positive impact the sharing economy has on their families, local businesses, and neighborhoods.