Airbnb Hosts in Greenpoint Put Out of Business By New Law

Greenpoint as described by Airbnb.
Greenpoint as described by Airbnb: “Peace & Quiet, Artsy, Cultural Enclaves, Dining, Trendy, Loved by New Yorkers”.

Many local Greenpoint hosts who make ends meet by renting out their places using Airbnb are in for a rude awakening. On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill to make it illegal to advertise entire unoccupied apartments for less than 30 days on Airbnb, according to multiple reports. New York housing law restricts short-term rentals for certain housing, and housing advocates in the city argue that many of the units listed on Airbnb are illegal. Although these hosts can already face steep fines, the new law would make it illegal for Airbnb to allow listings for these units on their platform.

Airbnb listings in Greenpoint.
Airbnb listings in Greenpoint, with an average price of $162 per night.

Airbnb loudly opposed the measure, spending $10 million on a campaign to defeat its passage and has announced its intention to sue the state, arguing that that the law violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its users. Airbnb has similar lawsuits against the cities of San Francisco, Anaheim and Santa Monica, which have also moved to outlaw the platform. Airbnb also claims the law is a violation of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from liability for content posted by their users. In the suit, Airbnb says that application of the law to Airbnb “would hold Airbnb liable for the content of rental listings created and posted by third-parties on Airbnb’s platform. As such, the Act unquestionably treats platforms such as Airbnb as the publisher or speaker of third-party content and is completely preempted by the CDA.”

New York Times headline
New York Times headline

The law affects mutiple family buildings. People who live in apartment buildings would be forbidden to rent out their places by advertising on Airbnb, but owners of one- and two-family homes would not be affected by the new law. Airbnb is popular amongst many locals who have apartments that are too small to accommodate guests such as parents or other family. Local hotels can cost over three hundred dollars nightly, so Airbnb has proven a cost-friendly alternative for Greenpoint guests. A map on the Airbnb website listed at least twenty Greenpoint hosts.

Should the new law stand the legal challenges mounted against it, there could be numerous local economic effects. Airbnb guests pump money into local bars, restaurants and shops, in addition to enabling some local residents to remain in their beloved neighborhood with rising rents.

About Geoff Cobb

Geoffrey Cobb is a Brooklyn high school history teacher and writer of the blog historicgreenpoint.wordpress.com. He has lived in Greenpoint for over 20years and is the author of a book on the history of the area, "Greenpoint Brooklyn's Forgotten Past."

3 Comments

  1. greenpoint guy says:

    However, AirBnB rentals also contribute to the rising rents that many of us face.

    Reply
  2. ginas13 says:

    It’s a fair law. Apartment building residents have a right to be safe and not worry if their neighbor rented to shady people.

    Reply
  3. person says:

    actually, it’s not a fair law. If one owns their apartment and airbnb’s it while out of town that has nothing to do with rents rising. A terrible and unethical law.

    Reply

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