Airbnb saw a major legal victory Thursday when a federal court blocked a New York City law that would have required the company to submit a list of its hosts to the city’s regulators, according to Politico. The company argued that this would constitute a violation of privacy and protections against search and seizures in the constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
The decision, a temporary injunction, comes as many other cities move to regulate Airbnb and other home-sharing services. Legislators and housing advocates argue that home-sharing apps allow abuses by landlords running what amount to illegal hotels.
Last year, a study found that increases in rents and home prices in 100 metro areas corresponded with increases in the number of Airbnb listings. They found this correlation was more significant in neighborhoods with more renters than owner-occupiers – those who own their home and reside there, as opposed to landlords.
The study’s authors attributed the price increases to Airbnb hosting by landlords taking whole potential rentals off the long-term market, rather than owner-occupiers renting out extra space in their home that would be off the market in any case.
These situations put pressure on the limited supply of affordable housing in places like New York City that are already suffering from housing crises. New York City authorities say they are seeking the Airbnb host information in order to prevent these abuses. The law would have gone into effect in February.
On Thursday, District Judge Paul Engelmayer issued the injunction, saying the companies were likely to ultimately win with their argument. In his ruling, Engelmayer said the city’s law was too broad, without a convincing argument as to why Airbnb should disclose all of its host data, instead of a more targeted enforcement strategy.
“The City has not cited any decision suggesting that the governmental appropriation of private business records on such a scale, unsupported by individualized suspicion or any tailored justification, qualifies as a reasonable search and seizure,” he said.
In the past, Airbnb has been forced to settle in similar cases.
A spokesperson for the city’s law department said they will “explore all other legal options,” including an appeal.
“When a judge does a temporary injunction there is still a whole lot of legal process to be had and we believe we will ultimately prevail,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference. “I think it’s a good law, I’m comfortable with the law and we’re going to fight for it legally.”
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