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Don’t shut off short-term home rentals

Noushin Kiai, of Great Neck Village, demonstrates on

Noushin Kiai, of Great Neck Village, demonstrates on April 5, 2016, how she prepares a room for a new Airbnb tenant. A nearby village, Great Neck Estates, is considering a ban on short-term rentals. Credit: Chris Ware

Home sharing has exploded, and has been met with applause and criticism. It’s wrongheaded for New York State lawmakers to say no to this emerging economy and its largest website, Airbnb. We need to adapt old rules and devise new ones.

Critics worry that the increase in short-term rentals has tightened the housing supply and made it even more unaffordable. They also point to a Harvard Business School study last year that showed hosts were less likely to accept bookings from renters with stereotypically black names than those with typically white names. Those living in Long Island’s vacation communities have other legitimate concerns about transient renters: turnover, liability, cleanliness, noise and safety.

Last month, lawmakers in Albany passed a bill adding stiff penalties for those who advertise short-term rentals in many multiunit buildings. Such rentals — less than 30 days where the host isn’t present — have been illegal since 2010. We urge the governor to veto the bill and revisit the issue.

Making short-term rentals illegal may make sense for homes that aren’t primary residences, but someone who lives in a home year-round and wants to rent it briefly should be able to. Registering users, or requiring proof of primary residence, could guard against abuse. A cap on how long people can rent their homes — say, 50 days, or 10 weekends a year, could help. There must be clear enforcement and agreement on tax collection.

Starting now, including Airbnb in the discussion, and learning from other states, will ensure that legislation can be drafted in the next statehouse session. Airbnb should be willing to compromise. Peer-to-peer sharing is fast becoming a key economic engine. We have to be prepared to accommodate it. — The editorial board