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To Curb Illegal Airbnbs, New York City Wants to Collect Data on Hosts

Lawmakers hope the data would help identify commercial operators with multiple listings who run illegal hotels in residential buildings. Commercial operators have long been a concern for lawmakers and housing advocates who say that Airbnb makes it easy to rent apartments to tourists, taking units off the market for full-time residents and exacerbating the city’s affordable housing crisis.

In an unusually crowded City Council hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers took on Airbnb as they discussed a bill aimed at cracking down on illegal online home-sharing listings that have turned residential apartments into year-round hotels for tourists.

The bill, which is almost certainly to pass with a veto-proof majority, would cap one of the most fractious battles in New York City to regulate companies of the so-called sharing economy.

If passed, the bill would require online rental services, like Airbnb, to disclose the addresses of its listings and the identities of its hosts to the city’s Office of Special Enforcement on a monthly basis. Hosts would also have to list whether the dwelling was their primary residence and whether the entire unit or a portion was available for short-term rentals.

The legislation could be a serious blow to Airbnb if a significant amount of its listings are found to be unlawful. Under state law, it is illegal in most buildings to rent an apartment for fewer than 30 days unless the owner is present when a guest is renting. But research has found that many tenants and landlords skirt the law and rent entire apartments for short amounts of time without being there.

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