Airbnb has proven to be an invaluable resource for visitors to New York City, but a court ruling is now flipping the short-term apartment rental service on its head. An NYC judge recently found that a local resident who rented out his condominium through Airbnb violated the city’s hotel law and fined him $2,400. A 2011 law makes it illegal for any New Yorker to rent out their apartment for less than 29 days, and despite Airbnb coming to the host’s aid, officials won’t budge. The decision is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the approximately 30,000 New Yorkers signed up as hosts on Airbnb and other folks looking to make a few extra bucks by renting out their city dwellings.
“While breech of the condominium rules is not of itself a ground for sustaining this (notice), respondent was in breach (through Warren’s acts) and the existence of the rule against rental for transient, hotel, or motel purposes is evidence that the unit owners were to restrict their use to permanent occupation,” wrote Administrative Law Judge Clive Morrick.
The ruling, however, doesn’t make all short-term listings in the city illegal but hosts should beware that things could get sticky if a complaint is filed against you. Crain’s New York estimates that Airbnb could give a $1 billion boost to the local economy through short-term rentals and offer benefits to residents needing extra cash, but only if the current law is modified.
According to Crain’s New York, Airbnb executives have hired well-known lobbyists and Emily Giske (a friend of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn) to persuade the legislature to change the law by the end of the state’s legislative session June 21. The bill they are proposing would force hosts to pay a $200 registration fee per apartment on a short-term rental unit, and would limit the number of days an individual could host a renter.