Inside the Sharing Economy: Airbnb Fight Heats Up in NYC


One sign of a disruptive company is when the startup clashes with the regulatory establishment.

The debate surrounding the legality of Airbnb—the home-sharing startup that has turned into a global phenomenon—reached New York’s City Hall this week. At a city council oversight hearing, groups on both sides argued whether the short-term rental business is good for the region.

Airbnb and advocates argue the rental service has brought in millions in economic activity. “Most of our guests are international—they’re coming and spending money here,” said New York City Airbnb host Lee Thomas.

But opponents, including state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, say many Airbnb rentals in the city break accommodation laws. Local rules require a minimum of thirty days for short-term rentals, and that Airbnb hosts use primary residences and are present while renting out space.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Special Enforcement says it will continue to crack down on illegal hotels.

“We have a strong enforcement apparatus to pursue complaints of illegal hotel activity. When we have a bad actor putting people’s safety at risk, we’re going to go after them,” a mayoral spokesman, Wiley Norvell, said in an email to CNBC.

CNBC’s Betsy Cline contributed to this report.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Kate Rogers

Kate Rodgers is a reporter for CNBC where she covers small business and entrepreneurship appearing on CNBC;s Business Day programming and providing daily stories for CNBC.com. Her previous work includes working as a personal finance and small business reporter for FOX Business and the Nonprofit Times. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Delaware.

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