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A Legal Battle Over Short-Term Rentals Erupts in New York City

Suddenly, the business practices of Airbnb seem to be under attack in many locations—including one of the company's most lucrative markets.
October 24, 2016, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Ryan DeBerardinis

Katie Benner reports: "Hours after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a bill that would impose steep fines on Airbnb hosts who break local housing regulations, Airbnb filed a federal lawsuit contending the new law would cause it 'irreparable harm.'"

"The heightened battle in New York follows lawsuits that Airbnb has filed against its hometown San Francisco and in Santa Monica, Calif., which have both moved to fine the company for illegal listings," according to Benner, in a gesture to the broad scope of Airbnb's legal battles. Airbnb has also been banned in Berlin, while fighting legal battles in Amsterdam and Barcelona. One exception is the city of New Orleans, which recently legalized (with strings attached) Airbnb rentals in much of the city.

However, given New York City's huge market for short-term rentals, the "New York law is particularly worrisome for Airbnb," according to Benner. Airbnb's legal complaint "the company contends that the law 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."

The article includes a lot more detail about the political battles and negotiations leading up the state's adoption of the law, as well as a preview of the battles to come.

Joshua Brustein and Christian Berthelsen provide additional coverage of the new law and the resulting lawsuit in a separate article for Bloomberg.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, October 21, 2016 in The New York Times
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