Airbnb Regulation Bill Advances in NJ

JT Aregood, Observer NJ Politics

New Jersey took a step toward allowing its cities to regulate or effectively ban the use of Airbnb Monday, with a bill aiming to ban rental agreements shorter than 30 days advancing in committee. The service, which allows app users to rent out their homes or apartments to travelers for even one-night stays, is currently unregulated in the state.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, called the current lack of regulation a threat to public safety after its successful 7-0 vote in the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.

“The current practices of short-term rental businesses lack the necessary safety precautions for our municipalities,” Vainieri Huttle said. “We want residents and tourists to enjoy the options provided by companies like Airbnb, but not at the expense of neighbors who live there on a permanent basis. This legislation creates a baseline registry that municipalities can implement as they see fit.”
The measure would allow municipalities to prohibit property owners from offering their space as accomodation for a period of 30 days or less if it serves as their primary residence.

It would also require hosts to be the legal owner or tenant; require that multi-unit buildings rent out only one unit; require property liability insurance of at least $500,000; and restrict registration to units with no outstanding code violations; and restrict registration to one unit per host. Hosts who fail to register would face fines of up to $100 per day.

Airbnb is facing a rising tide of regulation in response to the effect it has had on affordable housing in wealthy cities like New York and San Francisco, where owners can charge transient tenants hundreds of dollars a night instead of collecting one monthly rent check.

A pending New York bill would make it illegal for owners to list their apartments on the site and others like it, and levy fines of up to $7,500 if they do. The company estimates that 40,000 property owners would be affected by the bill if successful.