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Depressing New York City Hosts Meeting


#1

Hi All,

This ONLY applies to NYC hosts (as far as I know) - the five boroughs…

Tonight, I attended a well-run, incredibly informative meeting of The Home Sharing Association of America. Most attendees are part of Airbnb, but there were people from other platforms as well…

The New York City Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) - is coming down hard, and swifty, on ANY kind of home sharing that is considered Short Term - under 30 days.

This includes: shares (a room or more in your home), rentals, Condos, Co-ops, Single family, 2-family, 3-family, 4-family+ - ALL OF THEM. The horror stories that were told tonight were…horrible. Huge fines; cancellation of all bookings. Abuse by NYC officials. I was sure I was exempt; I’m not.

If you are a NYC host, neither are you.

Evidently, 4-6 individuals from the Dept of Buildings, FDNY, and NYPD suddenly appear at your doorstep, (OR YOUR GUESTS DOOR!!!) “demanding” entry. ALWAYS REFUSE ENTRY!!! (and make sure your guests know to refuse entry as well) If you refuse, they stake out your place, write summonses (even unseen) and ask your guests details that will incriminate you as they walk IN and OUT!

It is a NIGHTMARE!

I spoke with an attorney tonight that laid it all out. He used to work FOR the CITY, now works FOR THE HOME SHARERS ; what he said is grim. home sharing is pretty much all illegal under the current law.

It’s kinda like a friend of mine said about motorcyclists; you’ve either gone down, or gonna go down.

For many New Yorkers, I know that you may question what I am saying here; I certainly did until tonight! But I mel with, hard-working, honest, truthful hosts letting me know that they recevied $5,000 - $100,000 fines levied by NYC, and how the only way to actually create an effective defense is if all of us, working togther, spending time, energy and money, to change policy.

I honestly don’t know what my next move is, but…I wanted to share this with the community.

Figured I’d let all of you know what I know now.


#2

Wow. That is truly amazing. And very important to share. I suppose their next step is to get the platforms to take down their listings. @JonYork have you seen this?


#3

AirBnB require amongst other things for you to confirm that your listing is legal. I assume other services do as well.

Tell Guests not to allow entry to City Officials, really? Can only imagine how a Guest would feel about that.


#4

Como,

I’m not sure if you are serious. Airbnb would have their revenue dive by 50% GLOBALLY if everyone abided by your comment that AIrbnb says “confirm that your listing is legal”. I’d say 95% of the listings in New York City alone are “illegal” with the current law; So, out of 23,000 listings, just over 1,000 are “legal”. These are not hotel operators, nor even have more than a single listing; they are much more likely living in a two-family home (full-time), and renting the unit they don’t live in. Hardly an “infraction”.

It is already in my house rules that no one that is not registered with me may enter the premises. Unless there is a court order or they believe someone is in imminent danger, no one, even a police officer, is allowed into your home.

If a Guest has a problem with my rules, they shouldn’t book.

It’s very frustrating and irritating that I even need to post this. I went to an Airbnb conference in Albany last week, and every single guest that I travelled with has a listing that would be considered “illegal” in New York. Airbnb stood by them, which really illuminates what their real position is.


#5

That is interesting, I would have thought AirBnb would want to distance themselves from those letting contrary to law, would there not be consequences for them?

Not sure if I was a Guest and a Police Officer etc turned up it would occur to me that I should not let them in because you only allowed registered guests on the property. I would assume that mean unauthorized guests.


#6

Well this is a tangent, but my adult daughter was visiting and up late texting or whatever one night several years ago. I had gone to sleep. Then I suddenly hear her calling up the stairs, “Mom, there’s a cop at the door.” I’m barely awake, and I hear my own voice saying, “Don’t let them in without a warrant.” On total autopilot. This is what happens when you’re married to a civil rights attorney for over 25 years! Turns out the dog was outside barking and one of my neighbors phoned in a complaint. Which my daughter took care of after she went out on the stoop to talk to the officer.


#7

Como,

Good point.

Airbnb has NO consequences for a host “breaking the law”. As a matter of fact, they, at most, will have a “phone call” with a host; but they will NOT help with legal advice, or expenses.

We have all fallen into the trap that our platform is standing “with us”. This is NOT the case…


#8

I don’t support whole house rentals in NYC in multi-family buildings.


#9

Funny!

But the point is…we all have to understand what our rights are, and defend them! I respect and adhere to law enforcement, but even they are sometimes conflicted when it comes to more “civil” matters, like this…


#10

CatskillsGrrl,

I don’t disagree with that!

But what about the VAST majority of people who rent out a room for several nights (and are STILL getting fines). Or own a one or two family home, and rent either a carved out Studio, or the second family apt? And are getting massive fines because they don’t have the “HOTEL RED FIRE BOX” which costs upwards of $50,000 to install and maintain?

These are (MOSTLY) people looking to make a bit of supplemental income, They are NOT renting an apt. they rented from a landlord and making 10x the rent. They did NOT buy an apt. in hopes of raking in huge profits. No one I have spoken with is interested in supporting either of those circumstances, including me!.

These are (MOSTLY) people, like you and I, law-abiding citizens, that are being hunted down because the hotel lobby isn’t happy that this cuts into their profits.


#11

I can see ABB low key supporting Host groups, but to get seriously involved with big time Lawyers etc would be a PR disaster, Media would have a field day.


#12

Yet it is how they make a majority of their money. What happens is…for every single host they lose, four other hosts enter the marketplace. And do you consider a single email to a host as “low key support”? I certainly don’t.

Eventually, it will catch up to them; that is not a sustainable trend. Why not stand and support those hosts that are true, genuine and honest? Will the press have a field day with them? I think not.


#13

What they are doing in NYC is TERRIBLE! Fining people with STRs for bogus city code violations (like not having sprinkler systems, etc.), when they don’t do it to anyone else in the building is straight up harassment. And the fines are financially crippling. Just horrible.

Some people only rent their entire properties for the summer, or holidays. I did that for YEARS before my city banned all short-term rentals entirely. No exceptions. The best compromises I’ve seen from cities is to allow a cap on number of days annually for entire homes, and to make a distinction between that and an attached or guest space with a separate entrance.

Air is already involved in big cities, especially in SF. They took a hardline approach to some advertising there that backfired, but then switched it up and made the ads more palatable. It seemed to work, because STRs are there to stay.

But this trend of cities like NY having this knee-jerk and mafioso reaction to what is still a relatively unstudied new phenomenon…is really troubling.


#14

You said it right there. This just boils my blood. There is room for everybody and I would wager that the majority of Airbnb users would never have been hotel guests to begin with. It is often a whole different demographic. Hotels need to SIT DOWN. Greedy f***ers.


#15

I don’t think this is correct if you share your home. Airbnb says on it’s own website regarding New York rentals.

"The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law restricts renting out a Class A multiple dwelling for periods of fewer than 30 days. The definitions of “Class A” and “multiple dwelling” can be found in Sections 4-7 and 4-8 of Article 1 of the Multiple Dwelling Law. The law exempts rentals to a “boarder, roomer or lodger,” which has been interpreted to mean that, in general, if a guest shares the apartment with a permanent resident who is present for the duration of the rental (i.e., a “shared space” rental), it is permissible under the Multiple Dwelling Law".

If you are certain that Airbnb is incorrect, then you need to contact them urgently and provide them with a quote for the correct legislation/policy to put on their website. But I would surprised if their lawyers wouldn’t have been all over this.


#16

Helsi,

I am 100% certain that what I have stated is correct. What the law says is completely contrary to what is actually happening in NYC. They are finding “loopholes” in order to fine hosts. For instance, if there is a lock (that needs a key) on a bedroom door, there is a huge fine for that. Or if a host isn’t at home even for just for a single night while sharing their home; that is a fine-able offense.I agree that Private-Room hosts are the least at-risk, but every other type of hosting is completely illegal according to the laws of NYC.

Airbnb is very well aware of this situation; that is why they bussed up 300 hosts recently to speak with their state representatives in an attempt to sway NYS lawmakers to pass a bill that allows certain STR and protects law-abiding hosts. The hotel industry tried to sabotage the press conference that was held, under the guise that Airbnb was “taking away affordable housing and displacing tenants, especially for low-income people of color”: Let me tell you that an overwhelming number of these apartments will never be considered “affordable housing” (they are nearly all market-rate), AND the vast majority of the Hosts that were present were “low-income people of color” trying to make ends meet. The hotel industry picks and chooses what they want people to hear, and often out of context.

Hosts in Albany being shouted down by Hotel Industry Employees

There are hosts who abuse the system, and I have no sympathy at all for them. But again, a huge majority are doing what everyone else is doing across the world and getting shut down in one of the greatest cities in the world.


#17

Who exactly are these people, the only info I find about them is their own Facebook page. Maybe I’m overly skeptical but I question what their motivation is.


#18

I was part of their first meeting this past Tuesday. Every single person involved in this organization is a host, many of whom have been given summonses and been required to appear in court. So while I understand your skepticism, I can assure you that they are legit.


#19

Leave it to NYC, the city that tries to limit how big of a soda you can drink. I think what has happened here and in other big cities as well, like San Fran, is an over reaction to a housing problem caused partially by landlords who took long term apartment rentals off the market and turned them into STRs in order to make more money. It caused a shortage of places to live and drove rent prices up. Hosts who live on the premises should be exempt from these laws!


#20

Mike, I totally agree! And trying to unwind these laws are difficult, especially when you have a well-funded entity like the Hotel Lobby making sure that it stays put.


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