By Mark Hallum
Airbnb may require more complete information from guests if a bill introduced by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is passed.
The legislation would require people sharing their homes to maintain records of personal information on guests for a certain period of time and require legal identification upon check-in at the listing. Avella has been an outspoken opponent of Airbnb after constituents have expressed dismay at the rapid spread of rentals in northeast Queens, which at times violate zoning laws and safety regulations.
“Airbnb’s unwelcome proliferation in neighborhoods in my district, mostly by absentee commercial operators, has created a public nuisance and public safety risks that are simply unacceptable,” said Avella. “If Airbnb wants to act like a hotel, then it must be subject to the same basic transparency and disclosure requirements that all legal lodging establishments in the city of New York are responsible for.”
The bill would force Airbnb renter to adhere to the same requirements for hotels and motels, while requiring background checks on guests and providing information to law enforcement if needed.
A home in Little Neck was the site of a July new conference hosted by Avella at which the Senator called attention to a listing that had series of fire safety violations and a vacate order from the city Department of Buildings.
The owner of the Little Neck home has since been banned by the website, but Avella has long taken to the streets in his district to fight listings which boast the ability to accommodate well beyond the capacity allowed by zoning laws.
A Broadway-Flushing home in July 2016 riled neighbors when the listing advertised the ability to accommodate dozens of people at a time for private parties. Residents claimed the street was overburdened with parked vehicles and strangers who came and went in violation of the one-family home zoning in the district.
Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty fired back at Avella with the assertion that he should support another bill introduced by state Assembleman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) who claimed would seek a middle ground between people renting short-term space and the law.
“This is one of the millions of Airbnb listings in 65,000 cities around the world that offer travelers the chance to stay in homes and communities they might have missed if they stayed in a traditional hotel,” Nulty said. “It is unfortunate that a lawmaker who has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry would introduce legislation that would punish hardworking New Yorkers. If Sen. Avella is serious about this issue, he should join Assemblyman Lentol in fighting for common sense legislation that allows New Yorkers to share their homes while protecting public safety and affordable housing.”
Lentol’s bill would require people renting an entire dwelling for less than a month at a time, currently illegal according to city law, to prove they are full-time residents at the location they are listing before sharing their home for profit.
Donald Trump’s boyhood home went up on Airbnb in June for $750 per night and the listing boasts accommodations for over 17 people at a time. The listing says guests can enjoy the company of a cardboard cutout of the president while watching Fox News in the living room.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall