It's been a long time coming. Airbnb announced Friday that it's dismissing its lawsuit against New York City over the requirement to hand over host data. As part of the settlement deal, the short-term rental company said it will begin giving host information to city officials, so that regulators can track down those people violating city rules.
"Illegal hotel operators who flout the law at the expense of working New Yorkers have no place in our neighborhoods," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "Finally, we'll have the critical information we need to preserve affordable housing and keep our communities protected."
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The tussle between New York and Airbnb has been going on for the last several years. New York City is one of the top tourist destinations worldwide and room rentals there make up a sizable chunk of Airbnb's business. For years the company has fought back against attempts to regulate it in the city. And in 2018, after New York City passed a law regarding host data, Airbnb sued.
The law, passed by the New York City Council that same year, is designed to make it easier to find "bad actors" who rent out several apartments to tourists on a short-term basis, which can be problematic given the city's limited housing supply, the council said. The law required Airbnb to hand over the names and addresses of people who rent their homes through its site.
As part of the settlement deal, Airbnb will now share host information with New York City on a quarterly basis and the city council will introduce an updated law. Under the revised law, short-term-rental companies must provide information on entire homes or rooms that allow three or more guests at one time and are rented five or more nights per quarter. The city won't require data on those listings that rent fewer than five nights or are for shared rooms and have fewer than three guests.
"We hope that our willingness to be transparent enables the State and the City to feel reassured that short-term rentals can be effectively regulated without blunt prohibitions," Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk wrote in a message to hosts on Friday. "Now more than ever, regular New Yorkers should have the ability to occasionally share their home, activity that we believe should not be confused with illegal hotels."
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The information that the city will be gathering includes the physical address of the listing and the total number of days it's booked. Airbnb will also provide the city with the host's name, address, phone number and email, and the name, number and URL of the listing. Additionally, the company will let city regulators know how much money the host is making for each transaction, their account name and provide an anonymized account identifier relating to those payments.
"With this agreement, the City will have a powerful tool to detect those who hide behind fake accounts and address those who take housing away from New Yorkers," said Christian Klossner, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement. "Now more than ever, transparency is vital to the City's ability to keep residents and travelers safe."
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