N.J. City Wants to OK Home-Sharing Sites

     (CN) -New Jersey’s second biggest city is looking to approve residence-sharing services like Airbnb, unlike its Empire State neighbor.
     Jersey City, N.J. Mayor Steven Fulop said Monday that he is introducing legislation to legalize services like Airbnb and HomeAway, online marketplaces for lodging rentals.
     Via Twitter, Fulop said “we need to understand technology brings change” and “we need to work with it to make us better,” also linking to a New York Times report.
     The report says the mayor will introduce a bill, expected to pass next month, to legalize short-term rental services that are barred for the most part in New York. That state’s attorney general’s office said last year that most of New York City’s residence-sharing listings are illegal.
     New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s report found that 72 percent of Airbnb’s units violated state and local laws against short-term rentals, as the Multiple Dwelling Law prohibits the renting of an entire home or apartment for less than 30 days in a “Class A” multiple dwelling. New York Administrative Code also disallows housing in non-residential buildings.
     “This report raises serious concerns about the proliferation of illegal hotels and the impact of Airbnb and sites like it on the City of New York,” Schneiderman said in a written release.
     San Francisco, by contrast, opened a six-person Office of Short-Term Rental Administration and Enforcement in July, designed to streamline host registrations and investigate violators. Short-term rentals were illegal in San Francisco for decades, but the city legalized it in February, with conditions: Hosts must be permanent residents, must register with the city, and entire-unit rentals are limited to 90 days a year.
     Fulop expects between $600,000 and $1 million in annual revenue to Jersey City through a 6 percent hospitality tax on Airbnb listings, the same rate as Jersey City hotel rooms, according to the New York Times.
     “Maybe it’s my age, or my friends who love Airbnb, but it’s certainly not going away,” the mayor told the newspaper. “You can either try and fight it and resist change, which I’m not sure is going to work, or you can try and figure it out and work together.”
     San Francisco-based Airbnb was founded in 2008 and operates in 190 countries, according to its website.

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