New York City has sued Guesty, a startup that provides services for listing on Airbnb and other home-sharing sites, in an escalation of a feud between the city and the startups, according to Bloomberg.
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2013, Guesty works to integrate its services as fully as possible with Airbnb’s. The platform lets users manage multiple listings on sites like Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia’s HomeAway, among others. It lets users connect with providers of things like cleaning and key handovers.
The problem, which goes back years, stems from New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s support of the city’s hotel workers’ union. The city does not allow owners to rent out their entire home for less than 30 days if the owner is not present on the premises.
New York City said the startup is working to help people break the rules for short-term rentals. Court documents focus on a particular phrase used by Guesty in which it referred to long-term tenants as a “ball and chain” crippling landlords.
So, the city is seeking records and testimony to determine the exact effect Guesty has had on New York housing and neighborhoods. In its lawsuit, the city states that Guesty is apparently aware of the city’s laws but has chosen to break them anyway.
Guesty had no comment as of Monday (March 2).
Because of the laws in New York City prohibiting short-term rentals, as much as two-thirds of New York City Airbnb listings may violate the law. The city has boosted its budget to around $8 million this year to help find those listings and stop them. The budget increase marks a tenfold rise in four years.
Last year, the city introduced a new law forcing Airbnb and HomeAway to reveal the names, addresses and phone numbers of their hosts, which Airbnb said violated privacy laws. The home-share companies eked out a temporary injunction and didn’t have to comply as the law makes its way through the courts.