REPORT: Half Of Airbnb’s New York City Listings Are Not Legal

Posted Jan 8, 2013

Airbnb is a privately held company based in San Francisco.  Airbnb is an online service that allows individuals to become hosts of properties.  The hosts are able to rent out unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests.  The New York State law requires that an owner must be present in order for rentals to take place that are shorter than 30 days to qualify for occupancy.

Roughly half of the apartments listed on the site are illegal according to state law according to Skift.  Airbnb has made money off illegal listings since May 1, 2011 when the New York State legislature passed a law the previous summer that banned short-term rentals in the city.  Airbnb did not disable listings that breaking the law.

Fines that violate those rules start at $1,000.  One Airbnb user had faced a penalty exceeding $40,000 after the law visited his East Village apartment.  The point of this law was not to penalize Airbnb, but it was mainly to prevent corporations from taking advantage of the system.  The city even partnered with Airbnb to help New York residents that were out of place when Hurricane Sandy hit.

?The vast majority of Airbnb listings are multiple units by the same entity,? stated Sarra Hale-Stern, the District Office Director for New York State Senator Liz Krueger.  ?It?s not Aunt Suzy going off to London for the month. It?s corporate entities doing it 12 months out of the year.?  Hale-Stern sponsored the legislation that made short-term rentals illegal.  Airbnb is working on trying to reform the law.

?It?s not always easy to know how a given city official or legislative body may interpret a law on the books,? stated Airbnb’s head of global public policy David Hantman. ?Our goal is to work towards a more consistent, fair, and progressive set of laws so that the amazing community of travelers and hosts who use Airbnb every single day can continue to flourish.?

[Social Times]