Dear New Yorkers: Your Short-Term Airbnb Listing Could Lead To $7,500 Fine

Image courtesy of Vivienne Gucwa

It’s already illegal for New York residents to list their unoccupied apartments on Airbnb for less than 30 days, but now it’s illegal and it could cost them: Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed into law a measure that penalizes hosts up to $7,500 for such listings. 

NBC New York reports that the restrictions build on previous laws in the state and aim to ensure needed housing isn’t taken off the market in the city.

Under the new law, hosts are barred from advertising short-term apartment rentals on Airbnb for increments of fewer than 30 days. Hosts caught advertising in violation of the law could face a fine of up to $7,500.

Hosts renting spare bedrooms, row houses, or single-family homes are exempt under the new law.

The bill, which passed both houses of the New York Legislature in June, represents one of the harshest restrictions on Airbnb rentals in the U.S, according to NBC New York.

“This is an issue that was given careful, deliberate consideration, but ultimately these activities are already expressly prohibited by law,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement to the Albany Times Union.

Proponents of the law say it will protect affordable housing in the city, and penalize those who blatantly flout the law.

“These illegal rentals are not just breaking the law, they are breaking the back of an already dangerously thin affordable housing supply,” New York City Councilmember Corey Johnson told NBC New York.

Cuomo’s spokesperson added that the rental compromise efforts to maintain and promote affordable housing in the city by allowing apartments to be used as unregulated hotels.

Airbnb, which opposed the measure, tells The Times-Union that it plans to sue to block the law from going into effect.

“A majority of New Yorkers have embraced home sharing, and we will continue to fight for a smart policy solution that works for the people, not the powerful,” Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels said in a statement. “We are filing a lawsuit in New York this afternoon.”

The short-term rental company contends that the bill violates the Federal Communications Decency Act, the First and Fourth amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the home rule clause of the state Constitution.

The new law comes two years after New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s office found that 72% of the units listed on Airbnb in the city were illegal.

Of the 35,354 private, short-term listings included in this data, Schneiderman’s office believes that 25,532 violated either New York State’s Multiple Dwelling Law, which prohibits rentals of fewer than 30 days in most apartment buildings, and/or New York City’s Administrative Code, which prohibits the use of non-residential buildings for housing.

These 25,532 properties accounted for nearly 301,000 bookings on Airbnb and brought in $304 million in revenue, from which Schneiderman claims that Airbnb earned almost $40 million. The report went on to calculate that NYC was owed nearly $33.5 million by Airbnb hots who did not collect the city’s hotel room occupancy tax.

Cuomo signs bill prohibiting Airbnb listings in NYC [Albany Times Union]
Gov. Cuomo Authorizes Fines for Illegal Airbnb Rentals in New York state [NBC New York]

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