A New York City judge handed a win to Airbnb that offered some reprieve on the city’s crackdown on short-term rentals as reported by The Real Deal.
Justice Arthur Engoron ruled in favor of a Brooklyn-based Airbnb host, Stanley Karol, who was fined for code violations including using illegal occupancy of his home.
Decision Provides Legal Clarity and a Potential Win for Airbnb
New York City’s political structure has often repeated that code violations are focused on preventing large apartment-style “illegal hotels” from operating within city limits. However, the reality has been very different for the city’s short term rental homeowners.
Even with reassurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio that small dwellings would not be targeted, one-third of the fines issued were against small homeowners.
According to The Real Deal, Brooklyn owners were fined a total of $2.1 million and Queens homeowners were fined $1.7 million — 39 percent of the borough’s total.
Staten Island and Bronx-based homeowners accounted for more than half the fines in their boroughs. The case’s verdict will help provide clarity for these owners who have been fined while the city assures them that small homeowners would not be targeted.
It will be months before we know the true impact of the decision, as the suit still has two levels of appeal pending. Both sides are confident that they will win the case, so the verdict is out in terms of this decision’s real impact.
Airbnb’s Small Win in a Bigger War
Airbnb is paying Karol’s legal fees even though it is not directly involved in the suit. This case is part of a wider battle the company has been waging with the New York City political establishment and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
New York City and Airbnb are settling a lawsuit filed in 2018 that requires the company to hand over host data. The city wants to be able to better identify illegal listings, but Airbnb has pushed back in defense of its users’ privacy.
Last year, Airbnb spent $4 million on a campaign against short-term rental restrictions in Jersey city, a significant market close to New York City.
Despite pressure and grassroots campaigns from Airbnb, the public is still in favor of the city’s rental restrictions.