Two weeks ago, Avella joined neighbors in Little Neck to demand that Airbnb remove the listing of a home that had an illegal basement, deck and extensions. According to reports, the building was also served a vacate order for building violations in June.
In a conference call on Monday, Avella said his Queens district has “seen firsthand” how Airbnb listings are potentially putting people in unsafe conditions.
“I am increasingly approached by Queens civic leaders who are agitated by this,” Avella said. “We can’t allow these rentals to put people in jeopardy.”
The senator’s proposed legislation will have seven required protocols for home-sharing companies like Airbnb. The bill requires that the companies keep records of the the guest’s name, residence, date of arrival and departure for three years. Those records must be provided to regulators or law enforcement upon request.
The legislation would also require all lodging establishments, including hotels and short-term rentals, to require legal photo identification from guests.
Avella’s bill would require the owners of short-term rentals affirm that there are no outstanding violations on their property, an issue he faced with the Little Neck building.
Finally, the legislation requires the owners of private dwellings to state the property address on rental ads and enforce zoning laws that prohibit commercial activity in residential neighborhoods.
Avella said the bill would bridge the gap between short-term rentals like Airbnb and legal lodging establishments. He said he doesn’t understand why Airbnb doesn’t conduct background checks regularly.
“We need to protect those individuals and those families,” Avella said. “They should be able to follow proper protocols. Airbnb should do the right thing.”
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan has also proposed legislation that would require Airbnb to provide addresses of its hosts’ listings to law enforcement officials, according to Avella.
“If Airbnb wants to act like a hotel, then it must be subject to the same basic transparency and disclosure requirements that all legal lodging establishments in the city of New York are responsible for,” Avella added.
In response, Airbnb spokesperson Peter Schottenfels fired back at the state lawmaker.
“It is unfortunate that a lawmaker who has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry would introduce legislation attacking hardworking New Yorkers for using their own homes to earn enough to stay in the neighborhoods they love,” Schottenfels said in a statement.
“If Senator Avella is serious about this issue, he should join Assemblyman [Joseph] Lentol in fighting for common sense legislation that allows New Yorkers to share their homes while cracking down on commercial operators who abuse home sharing platforms,” he added.