The PLAN Act: Holding all parties accountable

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by Peter Clerkin

Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.

THE ISSUE
Illegal Hotels
From housing shortages and skyrocketing rents to public safety concerns, short-term rentals (STRs) are creating significant headaches for neighborhoods across America. Cities and states are responding by passing laws to curb illegal hotels and hold to account the STR platforms that advertise them. But STRs are mounting aggressive legal challenges to avoid liability for profiting from illegal rentals on their platforms. They claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) pre-empts local laws and thus protects them from any legal responsibility. This section is meant to shield internet hosts, such as bloggers, from liability for objectionable third-party content posted to their platform.

COMMON GROUND
H.R. 4232, the Protecting Local Authority and Neighborhoods (PLAN) Act is a measure that would amend Section 230 of the CDA to clarify that the statute does not shield internet platforms from liability for facilitating the booking of illegal rentals. The legislation confirms that internet platforms that knowingly market illegal rentals can indeed be held liable under state and local laws. This would empower cities and states to regulate STRs in their communities and bring an end to the string of abusive litigation by STRs, such as AirBnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and others seeking to profit from illegal listings.

Rep. Ed Case (D-HI)

First Elected: 2002

“This is a narrow, targeted change to the statute to ensure short-term rental companies and internet platforms comply with state and local planning, zoning, rental, labor, and tax laws and end their abusive stretching of CDA 230’s original intent.”

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC)

First Elected: 2017

“The PLAN Act takes much-needed action to protect lodging businesses. For online platforms to use an antiquated aspect of the law to make large profits and avoid paying taxes is simply not right. This legislation will take important steps to prevent these abuses from continuing. I am happy to support this bill and thank my colleague from Hawaii for taking the lead on this important issue.”

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