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A Big Victory for the Sharing Economy

One of the many New York apartments available to rent on Airbnb

One of the many New York apartments available to rent on Airbnb

A New York City Airbnb host has won an appeal with the New York City Environmental Control Board after being fined for renting out a room in his apartment, Airbnb reported on its Public Policy Blog. The Board reversed Nigel Warren’s $2,400 fine, delivering a major victory for Airbnb and the entire sharing economy.

Airbnb is “a global community marketplace that connects travelers seeking authentic, high-quality accommodations with hosts who offer unique places to stay.” Unfortunately, many cities do not allow these temporary rentals. But Warren and Airbnb were able to successfully argue that as long as a permanent occupant is present during the stay, it does not violate New York law.

Since Warren’s legal troubles first came to light, Airbnb started warning hosts that they may be breaking the law and encourages them to “please review your local laws before listing your space on Airbnb,” The New York Times reports. It is estimated that half of Airbnb’s listings in New York are illegal—but city inspectors usually only come to apartments where neighbors have complained about strangers frequenting the property. In the long run, Airbnb and other companies are determined to clarify or change some of the laws that restrict short-term rentals and other forms of collaborative consumption. It’s all part of the digital sharing economy, which includes online marketplaces for accommodation, local transport (Uber), and household appliances (SnapGoods), as well as crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter.

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