Airbnb wants changes to NYS law as home-sharing grows in popularity

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- New Yorkers have welcomed guests into their homes through Airbnb since 2008 but in the last year the number of people staying with Airbnb hosts in Erie County has grown by more than 200 percent.

“Just in the last few days, I’ve had two bookings, three bookings,” said Dorothy Mehnert, a host. “It’s just amazing.”

Mehnert was one of the first Western New Yorkers to join Airbnb as a host. There are now more than 215 listings in Erie County, according to the company.

Mehnert has rented two apartments in North Buffalo for the past six years.

“I just opened up a new one in Olean,” she said. “I opened it up at the beginning of September and I already have two bookings.”

She’s now part of the newly formed Buffalo Airbnb Host Club.

“We just love it,” said Joaquin Aristicabal, another host. “My wife used to do some extra work here and there but thanks to Airbnb she was able to quit the jobs.”

Aristicabal and his wife rent an apartment for $100 a night, and a house for $300 a night.

In Erie County, hosts typically earn about $5,000 a year, according to Airbnb.

The company told News 4 hosts are responsible for collecting and sending in the hotel occupancy fee.

“It’s obviously a complicated structure that no regular New Yorker would be able to figure out,” said Josh Meltzer, the head of Airbnb’s NY public policy.

Airbnb wants to take over the responsibility. Meltzer said they want the hotel tax to be included in the bill, like it is at a hotel.

It would require changing state law to allow home-sharing companies like Airbnb to collect and remit the tax.

“We’ve projected tens of millions of dollars would go back into local communities around the state,” said Meltzer.

News 4 reached out to a number of state lawmakers to see what they think about the idea.

Assemblyman Ray Walter said overall the state needs to make it easier for the “sharing economy” and this seems to make sense.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan is meeting with Airbnb representatives on Thursday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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