January 3, 2019 1:35PM

Are Anti‐​Airbnb Laws Unconstitutional?


A federal judge on Thursday blocked a recent New York City law intended to crack down on Airbnb and other online home‐​sharing sites that city officials say have essentially turned residential apartments into illegal hotels and have aggravated the city’s housing shortage.

The law, which was enacted last summer and was to go into effect next month, would have required online home‐​sharing services like Airbnb to disclose to the city on a monthly basis detailed information about tens of thousands of listings, and the identities and addresses of their hosts.

But the judge, Paul A. Engelmayer of United States District Court in Manhattan, granted a request for a preliminary injunction by Airbnb and another firm, HomeAway. He wrote the companies were likely to prevail on their claim that the ordinance violated the guarantee against illegal searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment.

And, while I am no constitutional scholar, I would have thought such laws are also takings that violate the Fifth Amendment. 

In any case, such laws are inane as a matter of economic policy, as Cato’s Peter Van Doren explains here.