As expected, Airbnb filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday seeking to enjoin the recently enacted amendments to the City’s so-called “Airbnb law.” The suit seeks to strike down the law as violative of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the Stored Communications Act and the First Amendment.
As noted in a previous post, the amendments would effect a form of prior restraint, prohibiting Airbnb, Homeaway and others from allowing an individual to list their unit for rent without the Hosting Platform first contacting the City’s Office of Short-Term Residential Rental Administration and Enforcement to verify that the unit is properly registered with the City. The amendment also directs the City’s enforcement office to notify hosting platforms of any unregistered listings on their platforms and requires the platform to provide evidence of registration within one business day or face substantial fines or criminal penalties. The practical effect of this latter provision would be to compel the Hosting Platforms to actively police listings for compliance and to remove non-compliant listings prior to notification, in violation of Section 230.
The District Court held a hearing on Friday to set a schedule for briefing on Airbnb’s motion for preliminary injunction. At the hearing, the City agreed to stay enforcement of the amendments pending the Court’s resolution of the motion. The Court set the matter for hearing on September 7, 2016. Both Homeaway and Tripadvisor have indicated that they will seek to intervene and the Court ordered that they may file supplemental motions for a preliminary injunction to be heard on the same schedule.