New York bureaucrats have stepped up their attack on Airbnb, passing a law that makes it illegal to advertise properties on the site that flout the state’s law prohibiting leasing of entire apartments for less than 30 days unless the owner is present.

Airbnb immediately launched legal action defending its right to do such a thing, arguing that it only provides the booking platform, not the actual product, so is not legally responsible for how people are using the site.

It’s the latest in a series of government crackdowns in major tourism destinations in both the US and Europe on the accommodation website: Airbnb is also under legislative siege in San Francisco, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

The central issue is that Airbnb started as way for people let spare rooms and earn a bit of extra cash but, critics say, has devolved into an online marketplace dominated by multi-property commercial operators competing directly with hotels.

Defying the global trend is NSW, where a govt inquiry last week recommended an easing of short-term leasing regulations – antagonising  resident/strata bodies and regulated accommodation operators

“It is ironic that at a time when city administrators across America and Europe are imposing major restrictions on unregulated commercial short-term accommodation operators that a NSW parliamentary committee should be advocating a softening of regulations,” said

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Carol Giuseppi claims: “The overwhelming majority of listings for unregulated short term accommodation in Sydney are for full houses and flats involving no sharing.

“Increasingly the sector is being controlled by commercial operators with multiple properties available 365 days a year.

“This is the same situation that has occurred in American and European cities and they have taken action to control the situation.

“We call on Australian governments at all levels to take note and take action to protect residents, communities and regulated accommodation operators.

“We want a very specific ceiling on the number of days an apartment or house can be let out on the short-term market and we want online distribution channels to be held responsible for ensuring these limits are not exceeded and that they advertise only properties that are compliant – meeting safety, insurance, body corporate, strata, council and state regulations.

“We are not against genuine ‘sharing’, but we believe there needs to be sensible and proportional regulations imposed on non-resident commercial property owners – especially multiple-property investors – who rent out full properties for short term stays.”

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