New York votes to ban ads for whole apartments on Airbnb

The decision puts teeth into existing law protecting residents against illegal hotels.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

New York already makes it illegal to offer your whole apartment for short-term rentals through services like Airbnb, but it's giving that legislation some added bite. As part of a flurry of end-of-term approvals, the state's assembly and senate have voted for a bill that would make it illegal just to advertise your entire place for a short (under 30 days) rental. You'll face a $1,000 fine the first time you're caught, $5,000 the second time and $7,500 the third. Governor Cuomo still has to sign the bill into law, but that's likely to be a mere formality.

Assuming the measure becomes law, it'll please some local residents as well as the hotel and real estate businesses. They've complained that services like Airbnb enable illegal hotels that both take away apartments for honest-to-goodness residents and drive up rental rates at the units that are left. In theory, this makes it too costly to even consider the tactic -- unless the offending hosts lie about the nature of their rentals, it could be too costly to run these makeshift accommodations.

Not surprisingly, Airbnb isn't happy. It portrays the bill's approval as a conspiracy between the government and the hotel industry, and argues that it'll increase the odds of "bankruptcy, eviction, or foreclosure" for 30,000 state residents who might otherwise struggle to make ends meet. Of course, the truth is mixed. While some of those people were earnestly trying to make money while away from home, it's no secret that many others were snapping up properties solely to profit from Airbnb stays. The would-be law should limit short-term rentals to people who actually live in their homes.