NYC’s ‘de facto ban’ on Airbnb is already removing listings

Hosts will now have to secure approval for short-term rentals.


Those firing up Airbnb to look for a short-term rental in New York City right now may find the pickings a bit slim. Officials in the city have started enforcing new regulations mandating that hosts will have to file a registration application — and meet a set of requirements — to be able to rent homes to guests for less than 30 days. Hosts can only rent out homes for short-term stays if they're also staying there, and only two guests are allowed at a time. These requirements are part of old and existing rules on rentals, however, and only the Short-Term Rental Registration Law itself is new.

NYC's Office of Special Enforcement said on its website that on September 5, it started collaborating with booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to ensure that they're honoring the city's verification system. These companies will now have to check whether hosts listing their homes for stays less than 30 days have been approved by authorities. According to The New York Times, only 257 application registrations have been approved so far out of the 3,250 that were lodged as of August 28. That would mean thousands of listings could be removed from Airbnb, seeing as the company estimates that almost 15,000 hosts had short-term rental listings across NYC as recent as last month.

Airbnb called the law a "de facto ban" on short-term rentals and filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed last month, to try and block its enforcement. Theo Yedinsky, the company's global policy director, said the rules "are a blow to [NYC's] tourism economy" and that "[t]he city is sending a clear message to millions of potential visitors who will now have fewer accommodation options when they visit New York City: you are not welcome."

The city's authorities argued that enforcing the new law would help prevent housing "being lost to the practice of illegal" short-term rentals. Hosts renting out homes for short periods contributes to the housing shortage, they said, and makes it more expensive to live in the city as a result.

Airbnb told The Times and CNN that reservations with a check-in on or before December 1 will not be cancelled, but the company will refund the fees it received related to those stays to comply with the new rules. Meanwhile, all bookings starting on December 2 will be cancelled, and guests will be refunded. In addition, hosts will find their listings converted to long-term rentals only if they allow bookings of 30 days or more on the platform. All listings that only allow short-term bookings will be deactivated.