Environmental Control Board cancels $ 2,400 fine for renting a room in an apartment – TechCrunch

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Big regulatory victory for Airbnb today: The company successfully appealed in New York City for a fine against a host called Nigel Warren, whose owner was fined $ 2,400 in June after Warren rented a room in his apartment. Had the fine remained in effect, it would have set a threatening precedent for Airbnb’s business in the city.

“This decision was a victory for the sharing economy and the countless New Yorkers who make the Airbnb community vibrant and strong. As I said last summer, the sharing economy is here to stay, and so are we, ”David Hantman, Airbnb’s director of global public policy, said today in a statement.

The key, as Hantman points out, is that “as long as a permanent occupant is present during a stay, the stay does not violate New York City short-term rental laws.” How this will be applied is another question. For now, it appears the case is only about shared spaces, meaning if full accommodation is offered it could be exempt from both the violation and the occupant presence requirement. permanent.

The backstory: Earlier this year, Airbnb provided legal support to Nigel Warren in the case against him, when a judge ruled that Warren was breaking short-term rental rules by listing a room in his apartment on Airbnb. As Ryan pointed out at the time, these laws were originally not designed for small-scale room rentals like the ones on the peer-to-peer site, but for owners who would buy a property to list. spaces like hotels. Essentially, the law made it illegal to rent a space for less than a month.

There were exceptions for shared spaces, and Warren had apparently not been a big host, but Warren’s owner was fined anyway (and Warren took the costs on himself).

When Airbnb announced its involvement in the case earlier this year, it said it would be involved for the long term, even going as high as the trial courts – although it ultimately did not.

The overview here is on two levels:

First, how and if Airbnb can leverage this victory in a bigger game for further regulatory clarification at the city and state level in New York and beyond. It’s something the company – like Uber, another game-changing pioneer in how services are consumed and sold – continues to strive to achieve.

Second, if these rule changes don’t come as quickly as Airbnb hopes, will Airbnb continue to stand with its users to help them defend them?

The decision of the New York City Environmental Review Board is incorporated below. Airbnb’s statement is below.

Huge victory in New York for Nigel Warren and our host community
(David Hantman)

In June, I wrote about Nigel Warren, a New York host who was fined by an administrative judge for renting a room in his apartment for a few days. I said at the time that the ruling was clearly legally wrong and bad for New York City, and we were proud to stand behind Nigel and his owner as they appealed the ruling over the past several months. Yesterday, the New York City Environmental Control Board overturned the fines imposed on Nigel, accepting our arguments and delivering a major victory for Nigel, New York and the Airbnb community.

In the appeal, Nigel and we argued – and the Appeal Board now agrees – that under New York law as long as a permanent occupant is present during a stay, the stay does not violate New York City’s short-term rental laws. Much of New York law is confusing, with some provisions applying to some buildings and not others. But this arrangement of shared space was crystal clear. We intervened in this case because the original ruling on Nigel’s case was clearly wrong, and we are happy to see that the Commission agreed.

We know there is still work to be done. This episode shows how complicated New York law is and it took way too long for Nigel to be vindicated. That’s why we’re continuing our work to clarify the law and ensure that New Yorkers can share their homes and cities with travelers from all over the world.

But in the meantime, the move has been a victory for the sharing economy and the countless New Yorkers who make the Airbnb community vibrant and strong. As I said last summer, the sharing economy is here to stay, and so are we.


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