The big news in travel has been the signing, by the Governor of New York State, of a law passed by the state legislature that is deliberately designed to put Airbnb out of business—at least in the city and state of New York.  Although, according to Airbnb, New York accounts for only 2% of its worldwide business, the effect of this dramatic development should be devastating to that apartment-rental firm, since it may influence others to adopt the same measure.

The new statute imposes a fine of $7,500 against any apartment occupant who violates the law of New York State by renting an apartment for less than 30 days. New York law makes illegal the act of renting such an apartment if—and this is an important "if"—the owner of the apartment does not remain in residence throughout the rental.

Let me repeat that:  As the owner of an apartment, you can rent a room or a spare bed in that apartment to a transient visitor so long as you yourself remain in residence.  But you can't rent the entire apartment to such a tourist if you yourself are not remaining in that apartment throughout the rental. 

Based on that distinction, the authorities in New York claim that 75% of all Airbnb rentals in New York are currently illegal. Apparently, a full 75% of all Airbnb users will not use Airbnb unless the rental is for the entire apartment. They simply don't want to stay in an apartment whose owner can walk down the corridors of it in his/her shorts/panty and t-shirt.

And why is New York's recent action so important?  It is because numerous other cities in America and around the world are waging similar battles against Airbnb, and may well be encouraged by New York's specific response or by New York's determination to drastically reduce the use of Airbnb. 

San Francisco, for instance, has passed a law requiring that apartment owners signing up with Airnnn must be registered—at the risk of being fined $1,000 a day if they proceed with rentals without first registering (the effort is to prevent one owner from renting several apartments at a time or renting one apartment on too many days of the year). They, and such cities as Barcelona, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and Berlin are currently claiming, some strongly, some occasionally, that the operation of Airbnb removes apartments from their normal housing stock, making it more difficult for residents to find affordable permanent housing for themselves. Naturally, Airbnb is fighting back by claiming these arguments to be smoke screens generated by the hotel industry. And despite the negative claims, Airbnb is renting millions of apartments all over the world. (It has become one of the four largest of internet websites). Within minutes after Governor Cuomo of New York signed the anti-Airbnb legislation, Airbnb brought a lawsuit in the courts claiming that the new statute violates all sorts of rights possessed by Airbnb. Regardless of those legal outcomes (and most observers regard Airbnb's legal position to be weak), the practical impact of the new law seems clear. For a long time to come, you will not be able to rent an entire Airbnb apartment in New York. You will only be able to rent a spare room or spare bed or cot (which most tourists don't want to do). And you risk a fine of $7500 if you disregard the new law. 

The interests of tourism have lost a key battle.

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