The war against Airbnb and other sharing economy companies in New York continued this week when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed yet another piece of legislation designed to cripple the business model of Airbnb. This latest scheme makes it a crime to run advertisements for rentals which are supposedly in violation of one of the earlier laws the Democrats already passed to restrict such private, short term rentals. While it will likely prove to be largely ineffective, the law is sending an obvious message intended to put a chill on potential users of the service. (Crains)

A bill to ban Airbnb ads scored Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature Friday after a drawn-out battle pitting the tech giant against hotels, the real estate industry and affordable-housing advocates…

The bill bans listings for rentals that are already illegal under a 2010 law: sublets of fewer than 30 days in Class A multiple dwellings, which are apartment buildings with three or more units. Many Airbnb listings fall outside of that category, according to the company.

“There are so many uses on the platform and the scope of the multiple-dwelling law is so narrow that it’s likely that they’re mostly legal,” Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels said.

The reason this law is likely to wind up being difficult to enforce and more of a sop to the unions is that the previous law could only go so far in restricting the ability of people to offer Airbnb rentals in their own homes and apartments. For example, it’s still not illegal to rent out space in an apartment where you will be staying during the rental, such as an extra room or crash space on your couch. Row homes are not covered by the law, nor are rentals which last for more than 30 days. Trying to sort out which ads are for offerings which don’t fall under any of those categories will be an enforcement nightmare.

But going back to the original point, this was more about politics and sending a message than anything else. The state government would like to hinder Airbnb to keep their friends in the unions happy. When the last such bill was considered, I mentioned the fact that it was done with the backing of an influential union organization.

The original bill to increase fines on apartment owners offering Airbnb services was brought to us by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). As I noted at the time, the bill was pushed through with the support of a group known as the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. When you do a little checking in the Follow the Money game you quickly find out that this organization lists as their biggest beneficiary the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. And now you have Governor Cuomo once again signing on to a bill designed specifically to cripple Airbnb. Who else was on the list of the top five recipients of the generosity of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO? A group going by the name of Cuomo 2018.

The universe is just full of amazing coincidences, isn’t it?

Sharing economy services have become increasingly popular and for good reason. The ability to make a few extra bucks by driving an Uber or renting out your spare room through Airbnb has made a significant, positive difference in people’s lives during a rough economic downturn. And cost conscious travelers can reap the benefits by paying cheaper rates and fares. Unfortunately for the consumer, the unions don’t care for this at all because it cuts into their dominance of the hotel and taxi industries. And in New York (as well as other places) these union forces pretty much own the Democratic Party, so we see more and more laws such as these.

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