Short-Term Rental Update: Airbnb, Inc. v. NYC on data collection and the Fourth Amendment; Airbnb's undisclosed security camera causes privacy snafu

Garvey Schubert Barer
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Privacy concerns are front and center in this week’s Short-Term Rental Update:

Regulation & Legal Developments

  • A federal district court judge in New York preliminarily enjoined from taking effect a New York City ordinance that would require home-sharing platforms to turn over voluminous customer data on a monthly basis. The court held that the ordinance likely violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. ("Airbnb, Inc. v. NYC: Data Collection And Fourth Amendment Protection" on Forbes news, Jan 7, 2019)

Industry News

  • Airbnb dealt with a security-snafu when a guest complained he was surprised to discover a security camera in the living room of a home he was renting. The camera was not prominently displayed in the photos that accompanied the listing of the home, but was visible in a small corner of the photo. Airbnb eventually responded to the guest’s complaints by apologizing and fully refunding him for his stay. One significant risk with the home-sharing platform is the lack of control that guests have over privacy and security.  ("Airbnb apologizes to guest for how it handled undisclosed security camera" on Cnet.com on Jan 16, 2019)

Other news:

Industry News

Florida governor goes after Airbnb over West Bank decision
Seattle Times - Home on Jan 15, 2019
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing for sanctions against Airbnb unless it reverses its decision barring lodging listings in the disputed West Bank in the Middle East. The Republican governor on Tuesday criticized the online lodging marketplace for a policy he said unfairly targets Jewish people.

Regulation & Legal Developments

Las Vegas City Council delays vote to expand short-term rentals
Seattle Times - Home on Jan 15, 2019
A proposal to regulate short-term rentals in Las Vegas multi-family developments was criticized Wednesday by residents of a downtown high-rise who cast the measure as a reversal in the longstanding fight against illegal home-sharing. The bill, sponsored by Councilman Bob Coffin, would allow 5 percent of all units in a development to rent out homes for fewer than 31 days — a practice that has risen in popularity with the advent of platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway. It was a companion bill to an ordinance passed last month that limits new permits to owner-occupied homes and set a distance of 660 feet between vacation rentals. But Coffin’s bill would recalibrate how officials regulate quantity in high-rises, removing the distance requirement in exchange for percentage, while also eliminating the owner-occupied provision that will likely drastically reduce new short-term rentals in neighborhoods. For residents in the Ogden, the polestar of opposition to illegal home-sharing, the proposal would undo the goodwill reached by the original bill, which most had believed was a compromise to calls for an outright ban.

Airbnb law in D.C. is probably unconstitutional, mayor says, citing recent N.Y. court ruling
The Washington Post - Local News on Jan 16, 2019
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is raising doubts over strict new regulations governing Airbnb and other short-term-rental companies, saying the limits recently passed by the D.C. Council are probably unconstitutional and likely to be overturned by the courts. Bowser (D) issued the warning Tuesday in a letter to the D.C. Council in which she returned the bill unsigned and without a veto. Normally, that would mean the legislation becomes law after the standard congressional review period. If it goes into effect Oct. 1, the legislation will prevent D.C. property owners from renting out second homes on a short-term basis and bar them from renting spare rooms or basements in their primary residences for more than 90 days a year when they are away. Supporters of the bill, who say it will prevent Airbnb and similar home-sharing services from gobbling up affordable housing, were relieved that the mayor did not veto it.

South Lake Tahoe caught between rock, hard place with Airbnb ban, ensuing lawsuit
Reno Gazette-Journal Business News on Jan 14, 2019
Simply Money Advisors discuss ways to save money on airbnb and other services. Simply Money, Cincinnati Enquirer Now what? That’s the question South Lake Tahoe faces as the city walks the tightrope between enforcing a voter-approved ban on vacation home rentals in residential areas while also awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit filed against that very same law. South Lake Tahoe’s city council says it hopes to find “the right balance” while also holding out hope for a future compromise that would satisfy both sides of a heated Airbnb debate that has fiercely divided the resort community. In addition to Airbnb, the bulk of today’s vacation home rentals are typically reserved through popular online sites and apps such as VRBO and Homeaway.

State bill could nix St. Louis' effort to regulate Airbnb rentals
St. Louis Business Journal on Jan 14, 2019
"This type of legislation is coming to protect home-based businesses from overzealous local governments."

7th Circ. Questions Standing In Chicago Home-Share Reg Suit
Law360 - Real Estate on Jan 14, 2019 (subscription required)
Too much "meaningful" time has passed since an advocacy group and several individuals launched their challenge to Chicago's short-term rental regulations for the plaintiffs to clearly prove they still have standing.

New Orleans City Council takes first step toward stricter short-term rental rules
The Advocate - New Orleans Business News on Jan 10, 2019
The New Orleans City Council took the first step Thursday toward dramatically cutting back on the number of short-term rentals allowed to operate in the city, moving forward with a plan that would require the owner to live on the site of any residential properties being rented to tourists.

New short-term rental regulations for Massachusetts goes into effect this year
Massachusetts State News on Jan 8, 2019
Governor Charlie Baker has signed a bill regulating short-term rentals, like Airbnb.Baker signed the new law at the end of December. It subjects short-term rentals to the same 5.7 percent state lodging tax that hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts have to pay. The bill also allows cities and town to impose an additional six-percent tax on rentals if they want.

Ireland's new laws put time limits on home-sharing
Hotel Management on Jan 4, 2019
In June, new restrictions will limit the ability of homeowners in Ireland to rent their homes on sharing platforms like Airbnb, but this isn't stopping people from advertising their houses and apartments as demand grows, according to a new report from home-sharing tracking service AirDNA. Under the new rules, which were proposed by Ireland's Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, homeowners will not be allowed to rent their properties for more than 14 days at a time, and no more than 90 days a year. Would-be renters will have to register with their local authority and provide information on how many days the space has been used. Homeowners who want to rent their properties for longer periods will have to get permission to register their properties for commercial use; local authorities in areas with a high demand for housing will be able to refuse permission.

Enforcement

New York claims real estate brokers made $21 million through illegal Airbnb rentals
HousingWire on Jan 15, 2019
A group of New York City real estate brokers made $21 million through a series of illegal Airbnb short-term rentals in flagrant violation of the city’s short-term rental laws, the city claims in a new lawsuit. This week, New York City sued Metropolitan Property Group along with a number of associated entities and people, claiming that they operated at least 130 illegal short-term rentals in the city over the last several years. According to the city, Metropolitan Property Group, its owners, and others were repeatedly warned to stop violating the city’s short-term rental laws, but chose to continue to do so, earning more than $21 million in illegal revenue from Airbnb. In its lawsuit, the city claims that MPG operated illegal short-term rentals in at least five residential buildings the company owns, controls, manages, and operates in Manhattan for at least four years.

Taxation

Tel Aviv Moves to Triple Municipal Taxes on Airbnb Units
The Algemeiner News on Jan 14, 2019
The Tel Aviv Municipal Council was set on Monday to debate a proposal that would raise the municipal tax known as arnona by a factor of three on apartments rented for over three months through the Airbnb website. According to Israel’s Channel 10, the proposal was put forth due to a rise in the number of long-term Airbnb rentals in the city. This has resulted in large sections of certain neighborhoods being essentially empty of permanent residents. The municipality believes this damages housing prices and the rental market, as well as hotels, which are required to pay VAT, arnona, and other taxes that Airbnb rentals are not, placing them at a disadvantage. Airbnb became controversial in Israel last year when it chose to drop listings in the West Bank settlements, prompting charges that the company was endorsing the anti-Israel BDS movement. The company has since declared that it was involved in an ongoing dialogue with the Israeli government and, as long as that dialogue continued, it would not delist settlement offerings. 

Transactions

The RedAwning Group Launches New Integration with trivago
PRWeb on Jan 18, 2019
We are looking forward to working with hoteliers and vacation rental managers in the trivago network looking to expand their reach through our complete suite of services. RedAwning.com, the world’s largest network of vacation properties, today announced a new integration with trivago, a global hotel search platform that allows travelers to compare over 2.5 million hotels and alternative accommodations in over 190 countries. Property managers in the RedAwning network will now have access to online travelers who search for accommodation on trivago. The European-based company works with numerous booking engines across the globe, including online travel agencies, hotel chains and individual hotels.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Garvey Schubert Barer | Attorney Advertising

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