Airbnb has agreed to settle its lawsuit in New York, its largest market, in which it was pushing back against a newly passed state law that would have hurt its business, according to an article today in the New York Times. The move is seen as an astounding about-face on the part of Airbnb, and a win for its opponents in New York City who cite that some Airbnb hosts are simply 'turning affordable housing into illegal hotels'.
The short-term home rental service on Friday ended the lawsuit that it filed against New York City two months ago. The suit challenged a New York law that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed in October, the article notes. That law called for fines of as much as $7,500 for illegally listing a property on a rental platform such as Airbnb.
The company had said the large fines could have deterred hosts and impaired its revenue in New York City. Hosts in the city generated about $1bn in revenue last year, and the company took a cut of that in fees.
But Airbnb on Friday agreed that it would drop the suit as long as New York City enforces the new law only against hosts and does not fine Airbnb. The new agreement takes effect on Monday.
The settlement is a victory for opponents of Airbnb, the article notes. The company and New York authorities have battled for years over the legality of offering short-term lodging through the service, and the relationship has long been inconsistent.
Since 2010, it has been illegal in New York to rent out a whole apartment on Airbnb for fewer than 30 days. In October, Airbnb said it was willing to crack down on people in New York City who rent out multiple homes, bowing to pressure from politicians and tenants’ rights groups who said the company had made it harder to find affordable housing in the city, the article notes.
Airbnb has been fighting with local governments around the globe that are displeased with the effects of the online rental service. Cities such as Amsterdam, Miami Beach and New Orleans have been closely watching the New York case, according to the report.
“I expect the city will now get down to the important business of enforcing the law against the serial lawbreakers on the site” who turn affordable housing into illegal hotels," Ms. Rosenthal said in her statement. “This is a win for everyone.”