Today, the Partnership submitted testimony on New York City Council Intro. 2309, requiring registration for short-term rentals and booking services.
The Partnership supports a registration system for home sharing but cannot support Int. 2309 as currently drafted. The bill would substantially burden hosts who share their homes by requiring that hosts:
- certify that there are no significant outstanding violations of building and fire codes, or any other law determined by the administering agency;
- hire a licensed architect, engineer or inspector to certify that the property listed for rent complies with city, state, and federal law; and
- pay a potentially high fee not specified in the legislation.
Moreover, the bill lacks clarity about, among other things, what spaces would be covered by the certification requirements. As we all work to help the city and its residents emerge from the pandemic, we should avoid putting up more regulatory barriers for small businesses, residents or tourists.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city experienced a 67% decline in the number of visitors. This ended a 10-year period of record growth in tourism. This decline has cost the city an estimated $1.2 billion in lost tax revenues. Home sharing is an option that many visitors depend upon and brings revenues to neighborhoods around the city that do not typically attract tourists (and may not have hotels). The legislation, as written, would make it harder for diverse communities to share in the economic benefits of tourism.
Home sharing is also an important source of extra income that families depend on to subsidize New York’s high housing costs and other expenses. Almost half a million New York City residents have lost jobs during COVID-19, and many are still out of work. Home sharing is an economic lifeline that we should not cut off. The city’s unemployment rate is still high and an estimated 750,000-800,000 city residents lost unemployment benefits on Labor Day. There is no good reason to make their lives more difficult through a cumbersome registration process.
We urge the Council to make changes that streamline and clarify the requirements in the current version of Int. 2309 to make registration an easy process for home-sharing hosts.