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It’s Time for New York to Adopt Sensible Rules for Short-Term Rentals

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

This week Brooklynites will open their homes to visitors in town for the Northside Festival, one of a number of events that makes New York a great summer travel destination. Short-term rental services offer travelers an affordable alternative to high-priced hotels, connect tourists with local residents, and generate business for neighborhood shops and restaurants.
The average Airbnb guest spends $200 per day — tourism dollars spent in bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants — in communities that may not have any hotels and rarely see visitors through traditional tourism. In the case of Northside, that translates into extra revenue for shop owners in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Across the state, roughly 50,000 New Yorkers share their homes with guests every year, contributing more than $3.5 billion to the state economy.
Despite this economic boon, New York has an on-again, off-again relationship with the sharing economy. This year, state lawmakers finally passed legislation allowing ridesharing companies to operate outside of New York City and defeated a provision that would have imposed an unfair tax burden on online marketplaces. In the case of ridesharing and online shopping, lawmakers stood up to special interests and offered clear victories for New York consumers, entrepreneurs and small businesses trying to compete in the 21st century economy.
But toward the end of last year’s legislative session, a group of Manhattan lawmakers partnered with the hotel industry to pass a new rule targeting New Yorkers who advertise on short-term rental platforms. They claim short-term rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO squeeze out affordable housing, but their law is really about protecting hotels from competition enabled by new technologies.
Whether a state welcomes new business models, such as ridesharing and short-term rentals, is one of 10 metrics evaluated by the Consumer Technology Association in its annual Innovation Scorecard. The 2017 Scorecard — released this spring — gives New York a “D” in this category for actively restrictive policies for ridesharing and short-term rentals, which dragged down the state’s overall rating.
Responsible short-term rentals are a win-win-win in New York — for the hosts who earn extra income from their home, for the guests who get a unique travel experience and for the local entrepreneurs who see increased business from new visitors. The question now is whether lawmakers will let special interests stand in the way — or embrace the new economy and welcome innovation to New York.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro