A dramatic legal spat between New York’s civic leaders and online short-lets platform Airbnb escalated over the weekend in a dispute that has echoes of concerns expressed about problems caused in the London lettings market.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that would allow individual borough authorities in the city the right to fine owners advertising on Airbnb between $1,000 and $7,500.
The measure is a bid to enforce existing laws which, for the past six years, have prohibited three-person or larger apartments being let for less than 30 days. Owners can now face fines of $1,000 for their first violation, $5,000 for their second, and $7,500 for the third and each subsequent violation.
However, within hours Airbnb filed in New York a legal claim stating that the new measure violates the company’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process, as well as the protection it is afforded under the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that says websites cannot be held accountable for content published by their users.
Airbnb claims it would be done “irreparable harm” by the measure.
Although in this country several letting agencies are moving into short-lets, including offering the management of Airbnb and similar lettings for clients, there remains controversy surrounding the vetting and security of online lettings of this nature.
There has also been controversy, and threats of legal measures, in other cities too.