Legislation Will Imperil Short-Term Renters from Anacostia to Brookland

Washington DC, November 12, 2018 – The future of short-term rentals (STRs) throughout the nation’s capital is being put at risk by DC Council Bill – B22-0092 which would introduce a licensing system that would eliminate nearly all current short-term rentals like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.

The bill would:

  • impose zoning requirements that effectively eliminate nearly all short-term rentals;
  • require short-term rental platforms to share private information about hosts with the city government;
  • cost the city over $104 million in lost taxes and implementation costs;
  • eliminate short-term rental competition allowing big-hotels to gouge visitors to the nation’s capital.

“Big hotels are the only real winners of DC’s anti-home sharing bill.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President at NetChoice. “The city’s latest anti-tech action threatens resident’s privacy and financial security.”

“I can think of a better way for the city to spend $100 million.”

“DC is going after short-term rentals to the detriment of home owners and at a cost of $104 million,” continued Szabo. “The City Council’s proposed rules would burden residents who use STR platforms to help make ends meet.”

A copy of coalition opposition letter can be found at: https://netchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/Association-Joint-DC-Council-Letter-150.pdf

About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association of eCommerce and online businesses that share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

NYC Short-Term Rental Law Is Unconstitutional, NetChoice States

Forcing Businesses to Turn Over Private and Personal Customer Information Violates the Rights of all New Yorkers

Washington, D.C., October-1, 2018 – Local Law 146, a short-term rental law passed by the New York City (NYC) Council and signed into law by Mayor de Blasio in August violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and needs to be amended, NetChoice says.

NetChoice filed in the court cases of Airbnb vs. NYC and HomeAway vs. NYC. Both Airbnb and Homeway are seeking preliminary injunctions against NYC’s Local Law 146.

Local Law 146 requires short-term rental (STR) platforms to disclose private and personal information of hosts who reserve STRs through them. This law is an attempt by the city government to improve enforcement of strict regulations on STRs.

However, NetChoice believes that the law has three fatal flaws as it:

  • Breaks the 4th Amendment of the Constitution
  • Defies the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • Violates New York State privacy laws

“New York’s fight against their own residents has lead them to defy the constitution and violate the rights of New Yorkers,” continued Szabo. “New York’s Southern District Court should protect the rights of NYC homeowners. The city’s anti-home sharing laws are dysfunctional and to enforce them New York is trampling residents’ right to privacy.”

Anti-Home Sharing Bill Would Hurt Thousands in the District

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2018 – A newly proposed ordinance would decimate DC’s robust short-term rental market, depriving home-owners of their property rights and hurting neighborhood restaurants and small businesses that benefit from short-term rentals in the District.

The proposed restrictions on short-term rentals, to be released later today, are accompanied by a half-million-dollar ad campaign funded by the big hotel chains – who want to eliminate competition from short-term rentals.   LaSalle Hotel Properties’s CEO told investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their room rates.

“Washington DC already gives millions in tax breaks to big hotels, and Council should not give hotels another handout by curtailing the property rights of District home owners,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel of NetChoice.

Short-term rentals provide much-needed income to hundreds of DC residents.  Over 52 percent of short-term rental hosts nationwide live in low-to-moderate income households. And almost half of the income hosts earn through short-term rentals helps them cover household expenses.  Moreover, there are hundreds of local restaurants, shops, and cleaning services that benefit from the activity of short-term rentals.

“This legislation has been marred by misinformation and process problems and should not be rammed through in the closing days of this year’s final Council session.   This issue deserves a robust public discussion and economic impact analysis,” continued Szabo.

“This bill will harm thousands of DC residents who rely on short-term rentals, not just home owners, but small businesses that benefit from the economic boost created by short term renting.”

 

About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association of eCommerce businesses who share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

New York City Passes Short-Term Rental Bill, Outsourcing Legal Enforcement Burden to Internet Platforms Like Airbnb, Homeaway & VRBO

Rules Will Imperil Short-Term Renters from Springfield Gardens to Hell’s Kitchen

NEW YORK, July 18, 2018 – The future of short-term rentals (STRs) throughout New York City was put at risk today by New York City Council’s passing of Int. 9081 placing legal enforcement responsibilities on Internet home sharing platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.

 

The proposal would:

  • place a minimum fine of $1,500 on STR platforms every time a property owner makes inaccurate claims on a short-term rental post regardless of intention;
  • require platforms to obtain, manage and certify that every property owner is abiding by local jurisdiction or homeowners association rules;
  • require short-term rental platforms to share all private transaction data, such as bank account numbers, with government agencies.

 

“New York City risks the sensitive financial data of its residents and tourists by forcing them to hand over bank account numbers to government agencies,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice.

“The city’s latest anti-tech action threatens New Yorkers’ privacy and financial security, forcing many to choose between protecting their financial information and paying their mortgage.”

“New York is once again going after short-term rentals by mandating hefty requirements on platforms, many of which could be illegal,” continued Szabo. “The City Council’s proposed rules would burden New Yorkers who use STR platforms to help make ends meet.”

 

About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association of eCommerce and online businesses that share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

9th Circuit Decision Scores a Big Win For Ridesharing Drivers and Riders of Seattle

Washington D.C. – NetChoice applauds today’s 9th Circuit decision in US Chamber v City of Seattle.  The Court struck down Seattle’s 2015 ordinance as it violated antitrust laws.  Had it been allowed to stand, Seattle’s Ordinance would have enabled collusion by ridesharing drivers and empowered them to form cartels and collectively bargain against ridesharing platforms.

“This is a victory for riders and drivers in Seattle’s ridesharing industry,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “The peer-to-peer economy relies on flexibility without which many drivers would have fewer options to make ends meet.”

“Without this decision, Seattle riders would expect higher prices and drivers could lose flexibility in choosing when and for whom they work.  We’re happy the 9th Circuit has rejected this ordinance and preserved the positive impact of ridesharing in Seattle.”

Santa Monica Ordinance Threatens Future of Online Platforms, NetChoice ‘Friend of the Court’ Brief To 9th Circuit Says

Fines and Jail Time for Website Employees

if Users Fail to Register with City

Washington, DC, April 25, 2018 – A Santa Monica ordinance, which forces online platforms to independently investigate and ensure every person with a listing on its website complies with the city’s licensing requirements, could be a death blow to web-based home sharing, ridesharing and a host of other online platforms, NetChoice and former Congressman Chris Cox (R-CA) argued in a in a joint “friend of the court” brief filed today in the case of HomeAway and Airbnb v. City of Santa Monica.

Cox, author of a federal law that makes such ordinances illegal, and NetChoice urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to invalidate the ordinance.

HomeAway and Airbnb require all persons listing a rental on their websites to acknowledge they are following all local laws. However, Santa Monica would hold the online platforms liable even if they were misled by property owners. The penalty?  Employees at Airbnb and HomeAway could face fines and jail time.

The Cox-NetChoice brief explains how Santa Monica Ordinance 2535CCS violates federal law — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (1998).

“The Santa Monica ordinance effectively transfers each homeowner’s legal responsibility to the internet platform. This clearly violates Section 230,” said Chris Cox, author of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “Sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway are matchmakers, bringing together homeowners and visitors.  Their service is national in scope.  When a family in Ohio plans a vacation in California or Florida or Maine, they expect Internet listings in these venues and more.  And that is what the Internet delivers:  it has allowed millions of homeowners across the country to list on these sites while millions of potential visitors have gained immediate, free access to those listings.

“Requiring the websites to review each of these listings one at a time,” Cox added, “will eliminate the very benefits consumers expect from the Internet.  It is the homeowners’ responsibility to ensure they comply with all local rules and ordinances.  Making the Internet intermediary liable for the website users’ legal responsibilities is what Section 230 rightly prohibits,” Cox concluded.

Section 230 protects online platforms from legal liability for user-generated content. Often termed “the most important internet law you’ve never heard of,” it is the law behind “Internet 2.0”. Without it, websites like Yelp, eBay, Facebook, and YouTube would not have gotten off the ground.

The impact of the Santa Monica ordinance could be widespread, setting a legal precedent that would undermine ecommerce.

“This is the slipperiest of slopes that Santa Monica is climbing. Do we hold clothing retailers responsible for manufacturers who may lie to them about child labor practices or mislead them about their fabrics?” said Steve DelBianco, president and CEO of NetChoice. “If Santa Monica wins, online platforms will face new costs and liability risks endangering an industry that has enabled millions of Americans to earn extra income from their homes.”

“The City seems to want to Make Bulletin Boards Great Again, by saddling marketplaces with new criminal liability,” DelBianco added.

Below are two excerpts from the brief:

  • “The Ordinance requires Airbnb and HomeAway to review each individual posting on its website and check it against “a Registry of licensed home-sharing operators in the City.” Defendant’s Opp. to Preliminary Injunction at 14-15.  This is exactly what Section 230 prohibits.” p.12
  • “If further proof were needed that the Ordinance requires a one-at-a-time review of every online listing, it may be found in the criminal sanctions for noncompliance. Not only are they harsh ― the penalties for an Airbnb or HomeAway employee include half a year in jail ― but they are specifically imposed on a per-violation basis. §6.20.100(a).  Each rental by an unlicensed website user constitutes a separate violation.” P.14