Lentol To Reintroduce Bill Both Protecting & Regulating Shared Housing Economy

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Assemblymember Joe Lentol (D-Williamsburg, Greenpoint) this week said in the upcoming next legislative session that he plans on reintroducing a similar bill he introduced last year thought to be favorable towards the shared housing economy industry and companies such as Airbnb.

The measure will build on A.07520, which he introduced last year, which eases short-term rental restrictions on multiple-dwelling units. The caveat with the measure is it further regulates rental hosts, in that they would have to register each unit they rent out for short terms with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).

Additionally the proposed bill imposes taxes and fees similar to taxes and fees that hotels charge.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol

“I haven’t really worked it [the language] up yet. We’re trying to work with everybody. I’ve already met with tenants groups in my district, because they’re concerned about it, and I told them this bill won’t go forward unless we’re sure tenants are protected,” said Lentol following the Polish Heritage Breakfast Tuesday in Greenpoint.

“We’re not trying to hurt anybody to make things better so people can home share without fear of reprisal by anyone,” said Lentol, referencing a push from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus to levy heavy fines on residents living in multi-family dwellings to rent out rooms in their apartments.

Lentol said some lawmakers both in the city and the state have said the original bill was slanted towards  what Airbnb wanted, but it was really put in for study purposes at the time until he came up with a better draft.

“I want to make sure it [new draft] protects who it needs to protect and that’s tenants especially. and to make sure it helps who it needs to help. We want to build what other countries and cities have, like London and Paris, who are able to do this without that much fanfare and that many objections,” said Lentol.

Lentol said the shared housing economy absolutely helps local neighborhoods, and these local communities and the hotel industry should work together to strengthen regulatory bills. There’s enough money to made by everyone without beating each other up, he said.

“People and unions who do not want to see a bill like this to get passed are threatening, regardless of what it contains,” said Lentol, “but I like to think we have to pass legislation that benefits the people and I’m not intimidated  by anyone to do that.”

According to a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce KCP op-ed written two months ago, there were 15,000 Airbnb hosts in Brooklyn last year, who welcomed over 585,000 guests from around the world.

These hosts earned $146 million. In East New York alone, Airbnb drove $20 million in direct spending to businesses and generated $25 million in economic activity, according to the op-ed.

Lentol said he hasn’t spoken to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) about the measure as of yet and is not sure where he stands on it.