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Skift Take

Platforms and hosts will get some breathing room from the city in the early days after the registration rules kick in. There are enough moving parts to keep most of the fines at bay in the short term.

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If you search for short-term rentals on Booking.com, Vrbo and, to a lesser extent, on Airbnb in New York City for stays after Tuesday’s deadline mandating that hosts be registered, you’ll still find numerous listings that seemingly flout the rules.

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But New York City authorities have told Booking.com in phone conversations that the city’s Office of Special Enforcement won’t clamp down in the early days on platforms that are working with the city to get into compliance, Skift has learned.

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At the same time, the NYC Public Advocate’s Office has informed some hosts that the OSE will not be issuing fines against unregistered hosts in the early days of the new rules unless the violations are “egregious,” such as hosting large groups of people.

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Booking.com’s API integration with the city is slated to first become operational September 5, the registration deadline day, but it wouldn’t be fully functional for at least a few days after that. The required API would enable Booking to submit information from its hosts in New York City to the Office of Special Enforcement to aid in the registration verification process. Platforms face large fines for noncompliance, as would hosts.

“We are working collaboratively with NYC and of course we are working to comply according to the parameters and deadline set forth,” a spokesperson for parent company Booking Holdings said.

Some of the implementation challenges are actually on the city’s side. As of August 28, the OSE had only reviewed about one-fourth of the 3,250 host applications it had received, and approved only 257. New York City had around 9,500 active listings of shared spaces on Airbnb — the largest player for short-term rentals in the city — as of July, according to AirDNA.

Skift estimated that Airbnb might lose at least 70% of its 23,000 active listings as of September 5. Many of these hosts are ineligible to register because their properties are whole homes and not shared spaces, and the city is far behind in processing registration applications from hosts of shared spaces.

Hosts who are present during a stay in a shared space are eligible to register to accommodate a maximum of two guests for less than 30 days per reservation. The bedroom doors can’t have locks.

Of the three big short-term rental booking platforms, Airbnb seems to have done the best job getting ready for September 5. It also has the most at stake given its market presence.

Airbnb has said it has blocked reservation calendars from September 5 for unregistered hosts, as well as for hosts of whole homes in the city unless the stays are for 30 days or longer, which are permissible and don’t require registrations.

A search on Airbnb for stays in New York City from September 5 yielded a few apartments, but mostly hotels appeared, as well as apartments and whole homes in places like Newark, Paterson and Bloomfield, New Jersey.

A search on Booking.com for a stay in New York City September 7-14 displayed 144 entire homes and apartments, all of which would appear to conflict with the new law.

A similar search on Vrbo produced a sporadic number of whole homes. Vrbo doesn’t have a huge presence in the Big Apple.

Spokespeople for OSE, Vrbo and Airbnb didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

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