Midtown bed-and-breakfast caught up in Airbnb dragnet

Ivy Terrace owner hit with $8K in fines
August 21, 2017 12:00PM

Airbnb Founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia and 230 East 58th Street

A 20-year-old Manhattan bed-and-breakfast appears to be an unintended victim of the city’s crackdown on Airbnb.

The Ivy Terrace bed-and-breakfast at 230 East 58th Street was hit with $8,000 in fines on Aug. 7, even though owner Vinessa Milando says she hasn’t booked a single guest through Airbnb, Crain’s reported.

“My business is a bed-and-breakfast. There’s no way to fix the problem other than shutting down,” she said. “This is all I do. This isn’t a side gig. This is my business since ’97.”

The building, which is owned by a private landlord, lacks the egresses and in-room sprinkler systems the city requires hotels to have, which led to the Fire Department issuing a ticket to Midando. The city confirmed that the Office of Special Enforcement, which oversees Airbnb violations, issued the ticket.

“The city depends on establishments to follow the law to protect affordable housing,” a spokesperson said. “This building is legally six apartments for New York families.”

As the state was mulling its law against “transient hotels” in 2011, Milando organized and founded Stay NYC, a nonprofit trade group for bed-and-breakfast owners. She was successful in getting City Councilmember Dan Garodnick and then-Queens Councilmember Mark Weprin to write a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 urging him to exempt legitimate bed-and-breakfasts from the 2011 law. No exception was made, however.

“This seems like a very respectable bed-and-breakfast that would be a benefit to any neighborhood,” said Weprin, who is now an attorney at Greenberg Traurig. “It doesn’t seem like the kind of business the law was intended to stop.”

The city started cracking down on Airbnb listings earlier this year, though a May report found the city only fined 139 Airbnb listings out of about 24,000. During the first six months, Airbnb, which is valued at roughly $31 billion, spent more than $400,000 lobbying in Albany. [Crain’s]Rich Bockmann