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New York City: AirBnB Agrees to Rat Out Hosts

This is probably a pretty old fashioned view but what I don’t understand is what these hosts who flout the law are thinking. I don’t understand why they believe that laws don’t apply to them.

The word ‘entitled’ is bandied around a lot these days but I don’t understand why these hosts think that they are somehow special and that laws and regulations don’t apply to them.

It’s easy to assume that they are like that in other walks of life too,

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Just like the “hosts” who list on Airbnb in contravention of their rental agreement. Then they get all righteous about it, like they are somehow entitled to sublet without the landlord’s permission. “It’s not a business, I’m just subsidizing my rent!”

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Yep, I just don’t get it. I don’t consider myself an overly law abiding person (I mean I’ve had speeding tickets and so forth, not that I’ve robbed a bank :wink: ) but an illegal host is messing with pretty serious offences.

It’s not just the permits and so on but not declaring the income for taxes, not paying bed tax and so on … I’d not be able to sleep at night.

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Government is MY friend - I like paved streets, garbage collection, universal education, police and firemen who come when I need them, clean water, protected wildlife, safe to eat food, airplanes and cars that do not crash, etc etc.

Lack of fire exits, over crowding, ‘overlooking’ common safety regulations and not paying taxes (that pay for the above) - not so much.

Add on here: when I’ve rented an airbnb in Seattle the site auto adds the taxes, makes it so easy.

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It’s everyone’s "friend. " I’ve yet to meet a true anarchist. Folks just disagree on what it should spend money on. Airbnb slipped into a little crack for awhile.

yes - I was replying to Giorgi. NYC’s airbnb business has been too lawless for too long. My own block is full of padlocks that short term renters can acess keys from. People who don’t know the local recycling laws, hold events or lose the keys so ring the entire building.

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You could be a wee vigilante, well that is you and your tube of SuperGlue :wink:

JF

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It will probably continue to be lawless for a while. People who are doing so now will likely continue to operate without permits until code enforcement catches up with them, then cue the droves of stories online about guests being put out on the street in the middle of their vacation/business trip by compliance officers.

@JohnF I wouldn’t recommend vandalism, but I can certainly stand right here and admire the idea. :smirk:

And droves of Poor Me stories from all the hosts who got shut down for operating illegally for so long. I was flabbergasted when I first read guest accounts of being instructed to go down some alley where they would find a lock attached to a bike rack a block away from the listing and “if anyone asks, just say you’re a friend”.

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poor me stories from hosts who got shut down for operating illegally

I hope they come here and cry about it just so I can watch the responses. :rofl:

Yeah I have read some crazy stories. “I had to get my key from a bike rack at the bus stop…” sounds too much like the opening scene of a slasher film to me.

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Might I ask where do you live?

I think Airbnb will try to use this as a precedent for other cities. If this kind of collaboration works well (both for Airbnb and NYC), it will be easier to implement similar agreements with other cities too.

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What happens in NYC is not precedent setting for their ongoing litigation in international cities, though. They are going to have to settle these lawsuits one jurisdiction at a time or change their internal policies and hand the data over when requested. They are going to have to do the cost/benefit analysis.

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I live in Manhattan. And confess I am a ‘lurker’ on this site, as I don’t run my rental apartments as STR anymore. (I have a rowhouse with 2 apartments above me)
My daughters had the entrepreneurial urge when they were in middle school 20 years ago, and we ran it through bnbfinder, homeaway, airbnb, oasis, and onefinestay, but on one ever got it as clean as I did and now I am just too tired and also worried about the crackdown, which has been on the horizon for quite some time…

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Wait, I thought AirBnB collected taxes for all major cities already. What are they reporting if they collect taxes and the host reports their income tax each year? Was NYC a city they weren’t adding taxes to when guests paid?

In cities and locales where Airbnb collects taxes, they pay it as a lump sum without splitting it out by host ID, under a contractual agreement with the government entity.
My impression is that tax authorities tend to operate separately as they don’t want people to hide income and not pay taxes for fear of their data being turned over to, for example, licensing authorities. IRS tax reporting instructions literally tell you you must pay taxes on illegal earnings. “Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your incomeon Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.”
So instead of using data from the taxing authority to nail you for the crime, they may use investigative data about your crime to nail you for tax evasion. See: Al Capone.

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So the new law will identify hosts individually even though their taxes are paid in bulk anonymously; Is that the difference? But hosts won’t be required to pay any more/separate lodging taxes if already paid in bulk right (and if they report on their yearly tax return)?

I don’t know what they do in major cities, but in our area they only collect and pay the state tax. The host has to collect and pay the county tax separately. Alternatively one can collect all of the tax for both entities oneself and remit it to both the state and the county on his own (which has its own problems but that is another discussion).

@dpfromva

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I saw the legal process of this play out in my community of 42,000 people. A quick search on Airbnb reveals about 9 Airbnb hosts with about 17 listings btwn us. One of those listings happens to be a register B&B home establishment. We also have one 250+ room hotel that does not use Airbnb for its online booking platform - it’s Great Wolf Lodge, it has it’s own. We all do the exact same thing: STRs.

There are well-established existing STR rental laws in every US state, and it’s up to individual cities and towns to interpret and enforce those laws. I actually wish Airbnb compelled STR hosts to follow state and local law, rather than flagrantly avoid telling hosts their responsibility as STRs.

Strictly speaking, Airbnb is not a STR company. It is a platform on which STRs are listed and booked. However, their name has become synonymous with “STR” much like Kleenex and Xerox, although Kleenex and Xerox actually manufacture the products that are named after them. Airbnb is just an online booking platform. I applaud their effort to compel wayward hosts to follow state and local occupancy law.

Honestly, I wish there was a better mechanism to alert authorities about multi-unit listings that clearly violate building, fire, occupancy, and safety code and registration. There has not been an outright crackdown on the dozen or so listings in my city. It was the only B&B in town that filed a petition to effectively ban all other forms of STR in our city to eliminate any competition. The city has taken a light-handed approach to those listings with 1 guestroom, and progressively more oversight for listings with 2 or 3 units. Four or more units triggers a whole host of zoning requirements, and nuanced distinctions btwn owner-occupied and un-owner-occupied listings of all sizes.

I like to think if I hadn’t come forward and spoke to officials about the benefits of travelers in our city, I suspect the regulations would have been interpreted much more strictly. There’s a huge misconception as to why anyone would stay in our city. Many people have been surprised I have been so successful, and I think I opened a few minds to possibly that offering short-term accommodations to visits can do for our local economy, or least people who live and work here who have visitors.

But, the 7-unit listing across town needs to go.

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That’s my understanding. The agreements between Airbnb and the taxing authority vary by location. In some cases I believe Airbnb collects both state and local tax. In my county, Airbnb only collects state sales tax and hosts are on their own to collect and remit county lodging tax. This caused enormous confusion; because Airbnb referred to it as “Virginia lodging tax,” some hosts stopped remitting the county lodging tax, and the county sent a clarification email to all us STR permit holders.

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