Airbnb advocates for dwelling law amendments

Airbnb's Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky
Airbnb's Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky

Principals of the hospitality website Airbnb, which allows homeowners or renters to lease their spaces to visitors on a short-term basis while out of town, are working to change local laws which make it difficult to use the site in New York, WNYC reported.

New York’s multiple dwelling law, which serves to make short-term rentals in large buildings illegal, was tightened in 2011 to curb the spread of illegal hotels in the city. Instead, it’s led to users of Airbnb being slapped with violations by city authorities for hosting strangers in their homes for short periods. In one instance, a man who rented his East Village walk-up to tourists last year for three nights is being fined $30,000.

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“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” said Nigel Warren, the owner of the apartment.

In the first six months of 2012, Airbnb paid $30,000 to Albany lobbying firm Bolton-St. Johns in an effort to amend the dwelling law, WNYC said. David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy, said the law needs to better distinguish between occasional sublets and illegal hotels. [WNYC]Katherine Clarke