Airbnb just sent Betabeat a statement about the recently-implemented “illegal hotels” law that renders some of the activity on the site illegal in New York. The law is not targeted at Airbnb, a rep said, and a majority of its users are unaffected by it–but either way, the site isn’t legally responsible for the arrangements users make and the company is “working directly” with the city about how the law impacts its users.
Here’s the full statement (emphasis ours):
The law that has gone into effect recently is not targeted at Airbnb Hosts in New York City, the majority of whom rent out their primary residences and are unaffected by the bill. The newly enacted law is aimed at illegal hotel and hostel-like establishments which are not a part of the Airbnb community. We agree with the spirit of the law, which says that visitors and tourists deserve to be protected and the Airbnb service is designed to enhance the safety and protection of visitors and tourists when visiting cities like New York.
Airbnb’s only role is to facilitate the availability of this marketplace for the Host and to provide services related to this and any agreement for the use of any accommodation is the sole responsibility of the Host.
We have a great relationship with the city and with Mayor Bloomberg’s office. We have been working directly with them to understand the extent to which the law might affect users of Airbnb. Airbnb will remain a safe, secure and legal way to find accommodations in New York City.
Airbnb founder Brian Chesky spoke out against the law when it was first considered in June of last year, saying “as far as I can tell, this will affect thousands of families, young professionals and elderly people” who use the site to subsidize their rent.
“The law that went into effect May 1 is good news for New York City’s tourism industry—the quality of life of our residents will be improved, and safety and security for our visitors will be enhanced,” Tiffany Townsend, a representative from NYC & Company–the city’s tourism arm–said in an email.