Real Estate & Property Law

Using Airbnb to rent apartments for short-term stays violates law, says NY judge


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Image from Airbnb.

A New York man who rented his apartment for a three-day stay ran afoul of the city’s hotel law, an administrative law judge ruled Monday.

Hearings for a similar law are pending in San Francisco, CNET News reports. Both matters involve the website Airbnb, a site that connects travelers and people interested in renting their apartments on a short-term basis.

In New York it’s illegal to rent an apartment for less than 29 days, Crain’s New York Business reports, but as of May 2013 about 30,000 New Yorkers were signed up as hosts on the service.

Nigel Warren, the defendant in the New York case, was charged with violating the city’s hotel law, as well as building code violations. The administrative law judge presiding over the case dismissed the building code violations, while upholding the hotel law charge. Warren was fined $2,400 for breaking the law.

Warren, who reportedly has rented his apartment for short-term stays three times with Airbnb, told CNET he doesn’t know if he’ll appeal the ruling.

Airbnb issued a statement, arguing that the law was targeted at landlords turning residential properties into hotels.

“It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes,” the statement reads. “Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in–they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law.”

According to Crain’s, Airbnb has hired New York lobbyists in hopes of changing the law. The piece also notes that the law is only enforced when someone files a complaint with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. Since 2006 the city has received 3,100 complaints. A former city official told the publication that the law is about safety. Hotels have higher safety standards than residences, the person said, and the law protects travelers.

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