Election Day 2019: Jersey City Residents To Vote On Limits For Airbnb

Paul Murnane
November 04, 2019 - 1:24 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Jersey City residents will vote Tuesday whether to beef up regulations on short-term rentals like the ones advertised on Airbnb.

If the ballot measure is approved, owners would be required to get a permit, and there would be a cap on the size and number of units that can be rented. The local ordinance would limit rentals of unoccupied units to 60 days a year.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has been pushing for these regulations, blaming companies like Airbnb for driving up the cost of housing.

He says if residents want to rent out a room in their homes, that's fine, but if companies are gobbling up multiple homes and apartments, that negatively impacts Jersey City’s housing market.

“That creates less supply of rental units in the city and then that increases the rental crisis for everybody else,” he said.

Crain's Greg David said the number of Airbnb listings in Jersey City rocketed up to almost 3,5000 from 800 in 2015 following New York City's crackdown on short-term rentals.

"This regulation doesn't effect what would be known as the classic Airbnb, you're staying there and you rent out a bedroom, everyone agrees that's fine, but what the vast majority of Airbnb rentals are is someone owns a place or rents a place rents it out on Airbnb and makes enough money to live someplace else," David said.

The City Council has already approved an ordinance to establish viable apartments for short-term rentals at the market rate, eliminate party hotels that have been created in residential buildings and focus on owner-occupancy to increase accountability from landlords.

Some Airbnb hosts have pushed back against the Jersey City effort to limit the number of rentals, saying it is simply about protecting the hotel industry. The company is also opposing the plan and has bought up a slew of advertisement space in the city to promote their rental units.

David reports Airbnb wants to go public next year and if it's going to avoid a WeWork disaster it has to settle litigation in key cities around the country, meaning it will need to make a deal with New York City that could end up being the template for other areas.