Skift Take

Businessweek magazine argued this week that the sharing and peer-to-peer economies need to stop whining about competition and start lobbying. But if they're going to win over legislators like Krueger, the new upstarts are going to need to learn that sharing goes both ways.

New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), who co-sponsored the law that made a large swathe of short-term rentals — the type you can find on sites from Airbnb to FlipKey to Expedia — in the state illegal, released a statement today regarding the fine handed down to Airbnb host Nigel Warren earlier this week.

Sen. Krueger re-iterated her stance that the law as written was indeed directed towards the type of rental activity that takes place on sharing and vacation rental sites. Airbnb has stated that 87% of its hosts are renting the units they live in, but the senator argues that a much larger portion of the activity on these sites is carried out by unscrupulous agencies and landlords than the sites would have users believe.

A portion of her statement follows:

The real problem here is the devil-may-care attitude companies like Airbnb have taken toward the legal consequences for their users. Whether it’s laws like New York’s, or it’s the basic terms of use of a potential user’s apartment, companies like Airbnb or Flipkey are recruiting private citizens into their business model without sufficiently warning them that it may not be legal and could even lose them their homes. That’s pathologically irresponsible.

New York’s law deals with a serious problem — our city’s chronic residential housing shortage has reached a crisis level. The bulk of listings on Airbnb and similar services in New York City are not individuals or small entrepreneurs renting out one or two rooms from time to time to supplement their income — they are large, ongoing illegal business enterprises taking residential apartments entirely out of the market and using them as unsafe, illegal hotel rooms. This is bad for visitors, who don’t get proper services, safety, or security in these illegal accommodations, and bad for New Yorkers, who are suffering under a housing shortage and can’t afford to have residential apartments illegally taken out of the market.

I am open to discussing good-faith efforts to improve our law, but the only proposals that have been put forward so far would gut the law, making it practically unenforceable and leaving New Yorkers without any recourse against illegal hotel operations compromising the safety and security of their homes.

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Tags: airbnb, expedia, flipkey, sharing

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