Airbnb, the enormously popular hospitality service, allows people to lease or rent short-term lodging mostly in the homes of strangers so that they can experience the city they are visiting in a more intimate way, which a hotel can’t even begin to do.
PROPOSED BILL AGAINST AIRBNB
But last week, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a huge critic of Airbnb, is trying to push legislation that would require the short-term rental site to fully disclose the full address of all available units in New York City. The bill would require Airbnb, as well as other home-sharing sites, to include the street name, street number, apartment number and even the borough, town and county in each listing. Right now, addresses are only revealed to guests once they book a rental.
FULL DISCLOSURE FOR TRANSPARENCY
A bill that would require disclosure of a full locations is an effort on Rosenthal’s part to create “an open and honest system that prioritizes transparency and safety,” according to the NY Daily News. It’s also meant to curtail commercial operators that are posting illegal hotels in apartment buildings, thereby reducing short-stay renters from getting scammed.
Because many Airbnb hosts operate behind a “veil of secrecy,” Rosenthal added, “Connecting online activity with offline identity shines some much-needed light on the process, provides guests with information pertinent to their reservation and ensures enforcement agencies can effectively protect residents, guests and community members alike.”
OFFENSES WILL RESULT IN STEEP FINES
In this way, it will be easier to crack down on those who are posting illegal listings because then they will be hit with very expensive fines. If the bill is passed, a first offence would be $1,000, a second offense would be $5,000 and a third offence or more would be $7,500.
AIRBNB FIGHTS BACK
Of course, Airbnb has fought back, and its spokesman Peter Schottenfels, claims the disclosure of full addresses would result in a disaster.
“Forcing New Yorkers to publish their addresses online for anyone to see, especially while they are on vacation or visiting family, will put thousands of lives at risk. . . This is a dangerous bill, and we trust lawmakers will see this for exactly what it is: another favor for the hotel industry sponsored by their favorite taskmaster.”
According to critics of Airbnb, the bill would only help to serve the real estate industry, its hosts and its visitors and that Airbnb has no reason to refuse to cooperate. In their defense, Airbnb reminded critics that they are in compliance, as they have already been forced to provide addresses to city officials in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco and such far-flung cities like Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam.
But Schottenfels pointed out that the information is not disclosed publicly, which the New York bill would require.
So the war begins. Already, both Airbnb and Rosenthal have retaliated by filing ethics complaints against the other over potential lobbying irregularities.