On Friday, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill into law that now makes it much more difficult for entrepreneurs who rent out rooms for short-term stays through Airbnb to continue doing so.
Contrary to what many would believe, he’s not dealing a blow to slumlords or trying to make housing more affordable for the lower-income population. Instead, he’s making life in New York much harder for those who have come to rely on home-sharing as a lifeline.
New York already bans rentals of less than 30 days in a multi-unit building when the tenant is not present. Now, under the new law, even advertising such a unit is illegal and will be met with serious repercussions.
Sure, this may catch a few nefarious characters who operate illegal hotels and who, in so doing, keep the units out of the hands of people actually looking for apartments.
This is true, however, in only a small minority of cases.
The practical effect of the new law will be to punish those honest people who are simply trying to make ends meet. This would include homeowners struggling to cover their mortgages. It also targets the empty-nesters who use the platform to ensure they can continue to live in a neighborhood where the cost of living has only gotten more and more expensive over the years. We’re talking about the widower who is just trying to pay the bills.
The bill targets New Yorkers who are doing what they do and know best: taking what they have at hand and making it work for them.
While this turn of events is unfortunate, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Whenever given the chance, Albany will choose to protect big business at the expense of opportunity for all New Yorkers.
This decision follows a troubling trend: Punishing home-sharing follows on the heels of the state’s refusal to allow ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to expand beyond New York City. It seems hotel and taxi industries are worth protecting, but those entrepreneurs in real need of protection are left on the outside looking in.
If Albany were truly interested in rooting out abuse in short-term rentals, it could focus its efforts by specifically targeting slumlords. Punishing an entire class of users because of the actions of a few is vindictive.
At the end of the day, what New Yorkers choose to do with their bedrooms should be up to them. And the opportunity created by Airbnb should be celebrated, not punished.
Cuomo, to the detriment of many throughout the state, just doesn’t see it that way.