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Airbnb proposes new rules in New York in face of legislation

The short-term rental service unveils plan to blunt criticism as bill that could fine its landlords sits on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.

Carl Court, Getty Images

Airbnb doesn't want to get squeezed out of New York.

The short-term home rental platform unveiled on Wednesday a five-point voluntary plan aimed at blunting criticism it's contributing to a housing shortage in the Big Apple.

The centerpiece of Airbnb's proposal would limit people to renting only one home in New York's five boroughs in order to ensure "home-sharing does not remove permanent housing from the rental market." That would prevent landlords from using multiple apartments as short-term rental properties.

The provision will go into effect on November 1 and makes good on a community compact Airbnb issued a year ago vowing, among other things, to prevent people from listing properties other than permanent residences.

Airbnb's New York plan would also require the creation of a registration system for rental hosts, require insurance and a neighbor complaint hotline, and authorize Airbnb to collect taxes on the hosts behalf. In its op-ed piece, Airbnb proposed the taxes be "explicitly dedicated to tenant protection and affordable housing."

The plan, published in the New York Daily News, comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo considers a bill that would fine people renting entire homes for less than 30 days as much as $7,500 in some cases. The proposed law wouldn't affect short-term listings of private or shared rooms.

The governor's office said "the bill remains under review by Counsel's office." It arrived on Cuomo's desk Tuesday and he has 10 days to consider it.

Airbnb is reportedly implementing a similar plan with San Francisco, where it's also had a contentious relationship with the city and faces potential new state laws restricting rentals in private homes. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that in San Francisco, Airbnb is also building in a way to automatically bar hosts who control multiple listings, with some exceptions. In April, it made a promise to crack down on illegal commercial operators in San Francisco.

First published October 19, 11:09 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:47 a.m.: Adds comment from Cuomo's office.

Update, 6:29 p.m.: With information about similar efforts in San Francisco.