New York moves to crush Airbnb rentals with a new tactic

If you’re a fan of the sharing economy and more options for consumers and you happen to live in New York State, prepare to say goodbye Airbnb, thanks to the Democrats controlling the state government. With little fanfare, the state legislature passed a new bill which will impose crippling fines on anyone who dares to compete with the Hotel industry by renting out their own property to travelers for short stays. This was, of course, hailed by Democrats as a huge victory for… somebody. (New York Post)

The state legislature delivered a body blow to Airbnb Friday, passing a bill that imposes hefty fines that start at $1,000 for apartment rentals of less than 30 days — which are illegal and which are a big part of the apartment-sharing site’s business.

“I’m elated,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the chief sponsor in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

“You should know who your neighbor is and what happens when people rent out their apartments on Airbnb is you get strangers. Every night there could be different person sleeping in the next apartment and it shatters that sense of community in the building. It also can be dangerous.”

Reading the excuses given by Assemblywoman Rosenthal as to why the citizens of New York “need” this new law it’s difficult not to either roll your eyes or fly into a rage. She claims that, “you should know who your neighbor is” and that with Airbnb you wind up with “strangers” roaming the neighborhood. It can also be “dangerous.” Coming from someone who represents a district in Manhattan that would be hilarious were it not so offensive. Particularly in the larger cities, there are other names for those “strangers” that she’s talking about. We also call them travelers and tourists or business executives. If Ms. Rosenthal is so worried about strangers in the neighborhood, why not outlaw hotels as well? They’re designed to attract strangers in huge numbers.

Of course, the reality is that this has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the biggest Super PAC that the Democrats have… the unions. In this case, it’s an effort spearheaded by one labor group in particular. (Emphasis added)

The bill was backed by the powerful Hotel Trades Council, which charged that Airbnb threatens “good-paying union hotel jobs in New York City and around the country.”

The full, proper name for the organization is the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. I wonder what sort of vested interest they have in wiping out the Airbnb business model? More to the point, why would politicians care what they want? As usual, all we really need to do is follow the money. Who did this group donate the most to? According to Open Secrets, their biggest beneficiary was (wait for it) … the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. It’s a real mystery how Ms. Rosenthal, a Democratic member of the State Assembly, could have gotten onboard with the same effort, eh? We should call in Sherlock Holmes to suss this one out.

The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Perhaps he’ll show some common sense and break out the old veto pen. Then again, perhaps not. Who else was on the top five list of recipients of the largess of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council? A mysterious group listed only as… Cuomo 2018. But I’m sure that won’t affect his decision at all.

Meanwhile, the impact will be felt by residents in the Big Apple and around the state. One of the hardest hit groups are retirees who count on rentals of empty nest rooms for income in their later years, as reported recently by the New York Times. But it’s not just retirees. Those in the middle class who struggle to live in a tax wasteland with an outrageous cost of living rate like New York and somehow managed to obtain a home gain some budget relief by renting out an extra room. In fact, the only people not affected are the ones who are rich enough not to need the extra income.

That’s some real service that the Democrats are delivering to their middle class and poor constituents, eh? But at least they’re keeping the unions happy.