Jersey City voters approve measure to restrict short-term rentals

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Jersey City residents have voted to approve a measure that would restrict short-term home rentals through companies like Airbnb.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and City Council members made the announcement on stage in the city Tuesday evening.

“I’m happy and proud of Jersey City residents that they researched this issue despite the $5 million spent by Airbnb with misinformation and lies,” Fulop said.

The topic has been a hot-button issue in the city over the past few months, with supporters on both sides of the issue holding rallies throughout Jersey City. City residents have been barraged with television ads and leaflets in recent weeks.

Jersey City has seen home-share rentals increase since New York City cracked down on them in recent years. The city's council previously approved rules that would prohibit renters from sharing their homes, limit how often a home could be rented and forbid home-sharing in larger buildings.

RELATED: Jersey City voters to decide on hotly contested Airbnb rules 

But Airbnb helped home-sharing advocates force a referendum to block the restrictions, forcing the topic to be placed on the ballot. The San Francisco-based company says the restrictions will apply to more than 90% of the city and unfairly impact renters, most of whom are minorities.

The city says the rules are fair and are aimed more at companies that buy up multiple properties and turn them into de facto hotels.

A group called Keep Our Homes, which has been fighting the measure, even put out a video Tuesday afternoon that it claims shows Fulop engaging in electioneering by telling someone to vote his way inside a polling location.
Fulop denies that he did anything inappropriate and told News 12 New Jersey that the video is only a few seconds of edited footage and part of a longer conversation.

Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty says in a statement, "From the start of this campaign, we knew this was going to be one of the toughest fights we’ve faced, with the big New York hotel industry determined to fight home sharing, but we had an obligation to stand up for our community.

The statement continued, "Cities from Buffalo to San Francisco, and Boston to Seattle have managed to pass comprehensive short-term rental regulations without punishing tenants or creating red tape and onerous registration systems. It's unfortunate to see the hotel-backed special interests run a campaign that moves Jersey City in a different direction. There are Airbnb listings in over 100,000 cities around the world and we will continue to do all we can to support hosts."

The restrictions will go into effect Jan. 1.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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