The Real Deal New York

Airbnb tells City Council that crackdown would hurt average New Yorkers

Office of Special Enforcement fielded approximately 1,150 illegal hotel complaints last year

January 20, 2015 05:13PM

From left: Councilman Mark Levine and Councilman Jumaane Williams

From left: Councilman Mark Levine and Councilman Jumaane Williams

At a City Council hearing today, representatives from short-term rental website Airbnb said that the majority of their hosts are full-time occupants who rent rooms intermittently to pull in extra income, rather than landlords running illegal hotels. As a consequence, cracking down on the multi-billion-dollar startup would hurt average New Yorkers, they said.

Council members heard testimony from representatives of the controversial Airbnb website, as well as New York tenants who say they are victims of landlords who have converted their apartment buildings into illegal hotels.

The panel was led by led Housing and Buildings Committee chair Jumaane Williams. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement fielded questions about responding to the issue of illegal hotels using a complaint-driven model, rather than proactively prosecuting violators. The enforcement office received 1,150 illegal hotel complaints last year, conducted 883 inspections, and issued just under 500 violations. A report by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office showed that over 16,000 New York City rooms were rented out on Airbnb last year.

Elizabeth Glazer of the OSE defended the strategy. However, multiple council members objected to this approach, Curbed reported.

“Your job is to defend the budget allocations,” Councilman Mark Levine told Glazer. “It strains credulity [that the city could be investigating a significant portion of illegal hotels].”

Yesterday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s testimony revealed his anti-Airbnb position. In September, 25 Airbnb hosts sued to block the turning over of their private information to the city. [Curbed] — Tess Hofmann

  • running262

    Endless BS from AirBNB. I have had to put up with more than my fair share of ‘neighbors’ renting their places out to vacationers partying all night, screaming out the windows, being total d!ckheads. And you call the cops and they can’t do anything but say to complain to your landlord. And your landlord can’t do anything because they can’t get in touch with the actual tenant. And by the time anyone gets anywhere its a week later and the jerks have left already. And the one who has to put up with it all? ME. The one paying his rent and living in his own apartment. The effn neighbor should be paying ME his profit for having to deal with it.

    • everyone_loves_brokers

      Landlords are in on this big time. They catch the people doing it, then let them continue in exchange for a cut and full deniability. I’ve been a rental broker for 10 years and when it happens, I just have to turn a blind eye. Better to lose a unit than an account

      • running262

        uh, where would you even see this if you are a broker? It isn’t like they called you to list it and then said, oh wait, the tenant is air bnb’ing it… brokers are the last people to know anything….

  • Edward Johnson

    interesting – my rent stabilized neighbors act just like some of your airbnb vacationers. BUT my neighbors act like this all of the time. And my landlord can’t do anything about it. Not sure how airbnb has anything to do with this. Seems to me it just needs to be easier to evict people.

  • 1Lionel

    The only guys who will get hurt are those serial renters who lease dozens of apartments and tenants in rent controlled apartments who illegally put rooms on airbnb.

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