Airbnb vi­o­la­tors could face hefty fines

Rentals un­der 30 days barred if res­i­dent not present at time

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - As­so­ci­ated Press and Free­man staff

New York state on Fri­day en­acted one of the na­tion’s tough­est re­stric­tions on short­term rentals of­fered through on­line ser­vices like Airbnb.

The mea­sure, signed into law by Gov. An­drew Cuomo, au­tho­rizes fines of up to $7,500 for list­ings that vi­o­late a 2010 state law for­bid­ding rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or ten­ant is not present.

Sup­port­ers of the mea­sure say many prop­erty own­ers use sites like Airbnb to of­fer res­i­den­tial apart­ments as short-term rentals to vis­i­tors, hurt­ing ex­ist­ing ho­tels while tak­ing res­i­den­tial units off the al­ready ex­pen­sive hous­ing mar­ket in New York City.

The new law won’t ap­ply to rentals in sin­gle-fam­ily homes, row houses or apart­ment spare rooms if the res­i­dent is present.

“To­day is a great day for ten­ants, se­niors, and any­one who val­ues the safe and quiet en­joy­ment of their homes and neigh­bor­hoods,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Man­hat­tan, a cospon­sor of the bill. “For too long, com­pa­nies like Airbnb have en­cour­aged il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity that takes hous­ing off the mar­ket and makes our af­ford­abil­ity cri­sis worse.”

Airbnb said it would im­me­di­ately file a law­suit chal­leng­ing the law.

“In typ­i­cal fash­ion, Al­bany back­room deal­ing re­warded a spe­cial in­ter­est — the price-goug­ing ho­tel in­dus­try — and ig­nored the voices of tens of thou­sands of New York­ers,” said Josh Meltzer, Airbnb’s head of pub­lic pol­icy in New York.

The com­pli­cated rules mean many New York­ers may not know whether they can legally rent out their homes — and Airbnb says it does not have the abil­ity to re­move list­ings that vi­o­late the 2010 law.

Sup­port­ers say the im­po­si­tion of fines will likely be driven by com­plaints from neigh­bors.

In the Ul­ster County town of Shan­daken, there have been nu­mer­ous com­plaints about short­term rental cus­tomers dis­turb­ing neigh­bors.

Also lo­cally, Ul­ster County Comptroller El­liott Auer­bach has been push­ing for the county to start levy­ing its bed tax on rentals booked through Airbnb and sim­i­lar sites, say­ing the moved could gen­er­ate $200,000 in rev­enue in the up­com­ing year. Auer­bach, though, has been un­suc­cess­ful so far in get­ting the pro­posal through the county Leg­is­la­ture.

Airbnb mounted a last-minute cam­paign to kill the state mea­sure and this week pro­posed al­ter­na­tive reg­u­la­tions that the com­pany ar­gued would ad­dress con­cerns about short-term rentals with­out oner­ous

fines.

Most peo­ple who list a rental on Airbnb are look­ing to make a lit­tle money while they’re out of town, ac­cord­ing to Chris Le­hane, head of global pol­icy for San Fran­cisco-based Airbnb. The com­pany says the 46,000 Airbnb hosts in New York City alone have gen­er­ated more than $2 bil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

As of Au­gust, there were an­other 13,000 Airbnb list­ings else­where in the state.

“It’s baf­fling to us in this time of eco­nomic in­equal­ity that folks would be look­ing to im­pose fines of as much as $7,500 on a mid­dle-class per­son look­ing to use the home that they live in to help make ends meet,” Le­hane said be­fore the bill was signed.

A spokesman for Cuomo said the gover­nor gave

the bill care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, these ac­tiv­i­ties are al­ready ex­pressly pro­hib­ited by law,” Rich Az­zopardi said.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Airbnb rentals from 2010 to 2014 by the of­fice of state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man found that 72 per­cent of the units in New York City were il­le­gal, with com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors con­sti­tut­ing 6 per­cent of the hosts and sup­ply­ing 36 per­cent of the rentals.

Sch­nei­der­man vowed to fight any le­gal chal­lenge to the new law.

“The law signed to­day will pro­vide vi­tal pro­tec­tions for New York ten­ants and help pre­vent the con­tin­ued pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal, un­reg­u­lated ho­tels, and we will de­fend it,” he said in a state­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.