New York City officials discuss new Airbnb rental laws with hosts

New York City officials held a heated public debate Monday with landlords over proposed changes to short-term rental laws that will make it much harder for hosts to list their apartments on Airbnb Inc. other platforms.

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Mayor Eric Adams’ Office of Special Enforcement outlined upcoming legislation that will more strictly enforce some existing laws and also add tough new measures. Hosts will be required to register their properties with the city, including the names of all permanent occupants and their relationship to the applicant, and submit a detailed listing outline, designating the rooms that will be used for rental and highlighting emergency exits, among other conditions.

Tenants who are renting must also provide a lease and applicants must submit government ID along with documents proving occupancy. The measure will also prohibit Airbnb and other platforms from processing payments for listings that are not recorded.

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San Francisco-based Airbnb has long struggled with New York, one of its biggest domestic markets, where short-term rental rules are among the most restrictive in the country and essentially prohibit most apartments from being rented for a while. less than 30 days without the presence of the owner. City officials have argued that illegal rentals can be dangerous, take properties out of an already tight market and only drive up prices. Airbnb says rentals provide people with a much-needed additional source of income in an expensive real estate landscape, a position that many hosts seemed to validate.

“My social security and my pension don’t cover my cost of living and without this short-term rental income I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage and I would lose my house,” said Aimee Thrasher, an Airbnb based in Queens. host, in audience.

For weeks, hosts have been submitting comments to the Office of Special Enforcement website, calling the proposed rules onerous and saying they would likely force them to take their property off the list. Of more than 230 respondents on the site, many discussed how regulations on short-term rentals of single-family homes would limit their ability to pay mortgages and other bills. Others were in favor of the new registration system, citing apartments that are currently run as illegal hotels and the ability for co-op owners to place their building on a prohibited listing.

Some hosts were particularly unhappy with part of the existing legislation that prohibits a tenant from having a key to lock their room behind them.

“I don’t have any issues with check-in, just restricting the use of locks or separating living spaces,” Brooklyn-based host Mike Harp said during the hearing.

The city has been determined for years to suppress thousands of illegal registrations in the five boroughs. New York has nearly 24,000 active short-term rentals on online platforms, including Expedia Group Inc.’s Vrbo, according to industry data provider AirDNA.

The Office of Special Enforcement has tightened its regulation of short-term rentals since the city and Airbnb reached an agreement in 2020 requiring the company to share information about its listings with the city on a quarterly basis. Legislation that comes into force in January goes further.

Over the summer, the mayor’s office prosecuted an operator of an illegal, multimillion-dollar Airbnb operation in Manhattan. The Southen District in New York has also charged a Florida man self-proclaimed as the “wolf of Airbnb” with wire fraud after he allegedly ran an illegal Airbnb hotel program and intimidated landlords over rental payments.

“Currently, this is a completely unregulated market and the consequences have been dire for New Yorkers,” New York State Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani said during the hearing. .

The Office of Special Enforcement will consider comments and feedback before the final law comes into effect in January. Hosts could be fined up to $5,000 for noncompliance, and Airbnb could be liable for $1,500 per violation.

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