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Federal Judge Blocks NYC's Airbnb Crackdown

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 11, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The litigation between Airbnb and New York City is starting to heat up as the like-Uber-but-for-hotels company won a rather and significant motion in federal court.

Airbnb successfully moved for a preliminary injunction blocking NYC's latest anti-Airbnb law that would have required the company to send monthly reports to city investigators, providing private data on their hosts. And while the newly emerged short-term rental market is a big problem in places suffering from an affordable housing shortage, a federal judge ruled that the law goes too far, and appears to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of the Airbnb hosts.

Other Cities Okay?

Other cities, such as San Francisco, have established rules with Airbnb, in order to help regulate the market and reduce the number of listings run by commercial operators seeking to skirt state and local laws that apply to hotel operators.

However, unlike the regulatory schemes that require hosts to get a permit from a city or register, the NYC law required Airbnb, and other similar platforms, to actively report on a monthly basis to the city's investigators.

The court commented that something like this before the days of electronic documents and data would simply be unthinkable, that a private company would never be required to produce this much on its customers. But, as a counterpoint, this is precisely where we are because we are in the age of electronic documents and data, and the internet and smartphones.

Though the bar for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rather high, the city of New York is still optimistic that it will ultimately succeed.

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