Illegal hotel inspectors focus on Manhattan

An analysis of 2,700 city inspection reports reveals enforcement oddities

Airbnb Founders
From left: Airbnb's Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia

Many short-term rentals on services like Airbnb are illegal in New York, and the city is (kind of) on it.

An analysis of a year-and-a-half of illegal hotel inspection reports shows that the city actively responds to reports, but neglects parts of the city, like Williamsburg and Park Slope, where short-term rental services are extremely popular.

It’s illegal in New York to rent an apartment on Airbnb or similar services for less than 30 days if the owner isn’t present.

The study, conducted by WNYC, looked at all 2,684 reports filed during the period. It found inspections were much more common in Manhattan, specifically in Midtown and Chelsea. While those neighborhoods are indeed home to many short-term rental listings, some Brooklyn neighborhoods have as many or more, according to the web scraping site Inside Airbnb. Those neighborhoods saw a significantly lower rate of inspection.

The analysis also seemed to show that the city is fairly responsive to 311 complaints related to the rentals. Only 1,616 complaints were filed over the period, showing that around 1,000 inspections were initiated by city.

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Only 566 citations were actually issued.

Many illegal rentals are likely happening under the nose of the city. Inside Airbnb lists 15,000 total whole-unit Airbnb rentals in the city.

The New York Attorney General’s Office released a report highlighting Airbnb’s illegal rentals in the city last year. [WNYC] – Ariel Stulberg