Jersey City voters pass restrictions on Airbnb, short-term rentals

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey -- Voters in a New Jersey city that's just a few minutes by train from the tourist sights of Manhattan approved restrictions Tuesday on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies.

The vote was an endorsement of restrictions that were initially passed by Jersey City lawmakers in June, but were put on hold after short-term rental advocates gathered enough signatures to force a referendum.

Jersey City, a city of around 271,000 people just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, has become increasingly popular with tourists seeking an alternative to pricey New York City lodging. Since officials approved short-term rentals there about four years ago, the number of homes being listed nightly on sites like Airbnb has increased tenfold.

That led to complaints about absentee owners turning apartment buildings into de facto hotels and having a negative effect on affordable housing.

When city officials acted to rein in the Airbnb bonanza, short-term renters pushed back, saying putting their homes up on the site helped them defray high housing costs by bringing in paying guests.

The regulations limit how often landlords can rent properties if they don't live on site. They also forbid short-term rentals in buildings with more than four units if the owner isn't present and prohibit renters from serving as hosts.

The referendum was the latest chapter in a battle that has played out in numerous American cities, including San Francisco, where Airbnb is based.

It generated a flurry of television ads in the New York market with both sides accusing each other of spreading misinformation about the size of the market and the potential effect of the restrictions.

Airbnb and local advocates argued that the restrictions would have the effect of eliminating 90% of the city's properties from the market and would disproportionately affect renters, most of whom are minorities.

Relate: New Jersey city holds protest against Airbnb, short-term rentals

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