Airbnb, Not in NYC

Back in February, I posted about Nigel Warren, a 30-year-old New Yorker who was hit with $40,000 in fines for illegally renting out his East Village bedroom for three days using Airbnb. Warren had initially learned that he could admit to the violations and get his fines reduced to $6,000. Airbnb sent their lawyers to observe the case.

CNET reports that NYC officials have determined that Warren should pay $2,400 for “violating the city’s illegal hotel law” and that apartments “may only be used as private residences and may not be rented for transient, hotel, or motel purposes” essentially making Airbnb illegal in New York (except for stays of 30 days or longer).

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9 Comments / Post A Comment

E$ (#1,636)

It’s interesting that people have been making these sorts of sublet arrangements for YEARS on Craigslist, without any regulation. Why now?

Titania (#489)

@E$ I’ve been super interested in this issue for a while now, and I think it’s just that Air BnB is SO much easier to track. All the things that make it a more appealing option than Craigslist for users–verified photos, verified contacts, real contact information–make it that much easier for landlords to confirm that it is in fact their leaseholders who are illegally renting out their apartments. As anyone who’s been burned by a Craigslist posting can attest, the listing pictured is quite often not the actual listing being offered on that site.

Titania (#489)

I mean, sort of? The law was already in place, so it was always illegal. This just means that more landlords will probably go after people for it, since there’s now a precedent for it being enforced.

3jane (#645)

I don’t know about NYC, but in Boston subletting is legal as long as it is not prohibited by the terms of your lease, provided you, the sublessee, and your landlord sign an agreement. Subletting without an agreement/in direct violation of your lease is illegal, but that’s it. I assume the same is true in NYC.

The difference is enforcing the law on a two-week illegal sublet coordinated over Craigslist (where an address or identifying info may not be provided) is a lot more difficult than enforcing the law on Airbnb.

Titania (#489)

@3jane NYC has the law cited above–an illegal hotel law–prohibiting short-term rentals. Actual subletting (renting your apartment for a period of 30 days or long when you are NOT living in the space) is legal unless otherwise specified in your lease.

franklina (#3,924)

The thing is, AFAIK this enforcement only happens if there’s a complaint. Presumably this happened pre-AirBnB, if a Craiglist weekend “sublet” warranted a complaint to 311 and was investigated by the city. It just wasn’t publicized – probably partly because AirBnB wasn’t advocating for changing the short-term hotel law at the time.

Frankly, in such a densely populated city, I like having some protection as a neighbor against someone running a hotel out of my residential building. If I can’t tell my neighbor rents out her place from time to time, no worries. But if it gets out of hand, (esp. as the user base of AirBnB grows beyond early-adopter tech geeks) I want some recourse. Transient tenants often don’t have the same level of respect for the neighbors, the building, etc. as a longer-term resident might, incentive-wise…

rorow (#1,665)

@franklina Yeah, I’d agree with this. I rent out my place – and have in different cities – when I travel for work, but that’s a few times a year, with a minimum three-night stay.

minijen (#656)

Hmm, I wonder if this is just for rentals or just for apartments? I mean, if you own a brownstone, you probably don’t need any extra AirBnB cash, but you never know!

minijen (#656)

@minijen – Well, it looks to be legal in FL, you just have to pay fees and taxes as transient lodging.
http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/hr/licensing/Apply-License.html

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