Buffalo Airbnb hosts take part in Albany rally

Mar 6, 2018

Airbnb hosts from across the state gathered in Albany this morning to rally for new legislation that would benefit home sharers.

Actor Danny Glover addressing a protestor in the crowd
Credit New York Now

The multiple dwelling law currently prohibits short-term rentals for fewer than 30 days without the homeowner present in New York City. Amending the current law would help protect home sharing services in the future.  

Joaquin Aristizabal runs an Airbnb on Buffalo’s West Side. He said with the industry growing, it’s important to have fair legislation throughout the state.

“Now it’s a lot of people who come from weddings in Buffalo and they are using Airbnb,” said Aristizabal. “And it’s a lot of people that come to watch the Sabres and use Airbnb. It’s a lot of people who drive from Toronto and need a place to stay for one night.”

Aristizabal said new legislation would be beneficial for consumers and homeowners alike. The proposed bill would also ban short-term rental hosts from having more than one listing on any home-sharing platform within New York City.

The bipartisan supported bill would also allow online home-sharing platforms to collect and remit occupancy taxes from guests. Those “tourist taxes” may generate up to $100 million dollars in the first year.

“If we have more clear rules for everybody, we can talk about the future,” said Aristizabal. “I have four kids with a family. I have to think in the future. I have to think (about) what’s going to happen with Airbnb.”

Buffalo has some of the oldest hosts in the state. Home sharing has been around the area since 2010.

“We realize that we have a really beautiful city to show,” said Aristizabal. “Tourism is always growing. We are almost 500 (hosts) at this point. You can get anything from a private room to a large house for 14 people or things like that.”

Airbnb advisor and actor Danny Glover attended this morning’s rally in support of the bill. He and other speakers were interrupted by counter protestors. An Airbnb spokesperson released a statement regarding the incident—

"Danny Glover has been a champion for civil rights and progressive values for decades. Today, he and hundreds of Airbnb hosts were harassed by individuals working for the hotel lobby while standing up for thousands of hardworking families across New York who depend on home sharing to make ends meet."

"The big hotels are shameless and will stop at nothing to protect their profits and blur the line between hardworking New Yorkers sharing their homes to make ends meet and the few bad actors who operate illegal hotels. They should support the common-sense rules currently before the state legislature, which would protect responsible home sharing, punish bad actors, and create a $100 million new tax revenue stream for the state."

Advocates of the hotel industry in New York have been opposed to Airbnb since it began operating.