The New York City Council on Wednesday is expected to pass a bill that would require Airbnb to hand over the names and addresses of everyone in the city who is renting rooms or apartments through the home-sharing platform.

Chris Lehane, global head of policy and communications for Airbnb, accused the council of pushing through legislation that would obliterate the privacy rights of New Yorkers in order to protect the record profits of the powerful hotel industry.

Lehane said 31 members of the 51-member council signed onto the bill before it was even written, indicating they were interested only in protecting the privileged over the many New Yorkers who rely on occasional home sharing to make ends meet.

He called on New York to follow the lead of other cities and states that have enacted regulations that allow responsible residents to rent out their rooms and homes while providing the enforcement power needed to crack down on bad actors. 

Lehane said similar legislation to properly regulate home sharing in New York is being worked on in Albany, so the city action is unnecessary.

"It is clear that the members of the city council are nothing more than bellhops for the major hotel corporations," Lehane said. "At the end of the day, it is going to hurt everyday New Yorkers." 

Lehane also indicated Airbnb would sue the city for violating residents' privacy if it enacts the bill requiring the company to hand over its renters database.

Troy Flanagan, vice president of government affairs and industry relations for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, commented, "The hyperbolic rhetoric from Chris Lehane aside, the work undertaken by the New York City Council ensures its constituents are protected from the negative impacts of short-term rentals and the excessive steps undertaken by Airbnb to avoid complying with the law.

"Across the country, municipalities large and small are following the leadership demonstrated in the Big Apple and taking back their communities. This is another step in that process and we support New York's elected leaders, ShareBetter and the many local neighborhood and housing groups as they fight to preserve affordable housing for the city's workers and residents."

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI