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Airbnb Slams Proposed City Council Bill Over Steep Fines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Airbnb has sent a letter to the New York City Council blasting a bill that would charge homeowners who use home-sharing sites with steep fines.

The company's head of public policy, Christopher Lehane, sent the letter Wednesday, a week before the Housing and Buildings Committee holds a hearing on the bill, according to the Daily News.

Lehane called it the "Freddy Krueger of bills."

While Councilman Jumaane Williams conceded the $50,000 maximum fine might be a little steep, he said it wouldn't be levied against the occasional Airbnb user.

Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal said the bill's fines are targeted at landlords who illegally rent out regulated apartments, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

Rosenthal said the city would not be going after the person who rents their apartment out once or twice a year, but rather "landlords with big buildings who empty out half of their building and then rent those units out on Airbnb.

"It's those big players for whom $1,000 fine is nothing; it's the cost of doing business," she added.

Last year, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said nearly three-quarters of the New York City listings offered by Airbnb violate city or state laws. Some opponents have argued the service shrinks the city's stock of affordable housing.

Airbnb, however, said it's a "bad policy" that could bankrupt middle class New Yorkers.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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