New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Land Use

Commercial Observer NYC Councilman Aims at Airbnb With New Registry by Cealia Young

NYC Councilman Aims at Airbnb With New Registry

New York City Council member Ben Kallos is looking to crack down on illegal apartment listings on home-sharing sites such as Airbnb. The law he’s introduced would require homes rented on short-term rental platforms to register with the city.

The five boroughs lack enough affordable housing stock. At the same time it’s home to thousands of apartments listed on sites like Airbnb. By requiring listers to register their apartment with the city, Kallos said he hopes New Yorkers will not only understand what apartments can be legally rented out but will have more legal apartments to choose from — which, theoretically at least, could bring down rents.  

SEE ALSO: De Blasio, Eyeing Tourism Recovery, Eliminates Hotel Tax for Summer

The number of illegal listings in New York City is difficult to approximate, however. Anecdotes and estimates do peg the number in the thousands as do the city’s recent enforcement efforts. When New York sued Airbnb in 2019, it accused brokers with Metropolitan Property Group of illegally facilitating 13,691 rentals from 2015 to 2018, housing more than 75,000 guests, pocketing $21 million in revenue along the way, according to The New York Times. (The case was eventually settled.)

Commercial Observer New York City Council Bill Would Tighten Regulations on Airbnb by CELIA YOUNG


New York City Council Bill Would Tighten Regulations on Airbnb

While New York’s multiple dwelling law makes it illegal to rent an entire apartment for fewer than 30 days in a building with three or more units, that law is largely only enforced when neighbors complain, WSJ reported. Councilman Ben Kallos introduced the bill to reduce the number of illegal short-term rentals and increase the stock of permanent housing in the city.

Wall Street Journal New York City Council Bill Toughens Airbnb Regulations by Katie Honan

New York City Council Bill Toughens Airbnb Regulations

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, said the bill would reduce the number of illegal short-term rentals and increase the stock of permanent housing in the city. Mr. Kallos said the legislation would also help the hotel industry, which saw occupancy rates decline because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, it is illegal to rent an entire apartment in a building with three or more units for fewer than 30 days. However, enforcement of the law is largely driven by complaints from neighbors. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement handles investigations into illegal rentals in the city.

New York Daily News Airbnb rentals could be required to register with NYC says Manhattan lawmaker Ben Kallos by Shant Shahrigian

Airbnb rentals could be required to register with NYC says Manhattan lawmaker Ben Kallos

While the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement is charged with implementing the law, it has been “nearly impossible” to do so, Kallos says, due to legal challenges.

That’s where his bill comes in.

By requiring renters to register with the city before offerings are advertised online, the city would be able to reject them in advance. Failure to comply would result in steep fines.

Kallos expects thousands of units to go off the short-term-rental market as a result — paving the way for hotels to start recouping losses from the pandemic.

TAPinto East Side Group Says R8B Zoning Has to Be Preserved by Marc Bussanich

East Side Group Says R8B Zoning Has to Be Preserved

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5) attended Tuesday’s meeting, citing the concerns of the community and noting, as he did in a statement to the Eastsiders for Responsible Zoning two weeks ago, that the Blood Center does very important work and can expand without a massive rezoning.

“This is why we insist that the Longfellow proposal, which would make the building as tall as a 33-story residential tower, is excessive and if allowed to go through unchecked will change our neighborhood forever. Every East Sider who could be affected by this proposal should be showing up to every Community Board and Department of City Planning meeting on the project,” said Kallos. 

Upper East Side Patch Blood Center's Upper East Side Tower Takes Heat From New Angles by Nick Garber

Blood Center's Upper East Side Tower Takes Heat From New Angles

Also in attendance Tuesday was City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who said his chief concern remained the three to four hours of new afternoon shadows that the Blood Center tower would cast over St. Catherine's Park, which sits across the street.

Kallos, whose position could be influential once the City Council considers the proposal, has not taken a formal stance on the project but has strongly hinted that he opposes it.

Kallos said the Blood Center should move forward instead with an alternate proposal it has included in planning documents: a modest, five-story building that would achieve its stated goals of creating new lab space and replacing its current, 91-year-old home.

"It seems that the as-of-right development could accommodate the Blood Center's needs," Kallos said.

The Real Deal Blood Center’s plans for big Upper East Side HQ draw criticism by The Real Deal

Blood Center’s plans for big Upper East Side HQ draw criticism

Another point of contention is the Blood Center’s plan to construct a larger lab which processes microbes that are “indigenous or exotic, and they can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through respiratory transmission,” according to the CDC.

The neighborhood group leading the opposition, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, claims the organization and Longfellow have not been transparent about bringing such a facility to the site, or how the lab will be used. (Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, told the Post, “I hate to think of what they’re cooking up in there.”) The Blood Center contends that it’s always had such a lab on site.

New York Post UES residents at war with New York Blood Center over HQ building plans by Melissa Klein

UES residents at war with New York Blood Center over HQ building plans

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area, said the Blood Center has not been transparent about the lab.

“I hate to think of what they’re cooking up in there,” he said.

The Blood Center told The Post the lab will be for its use only and “is a necessary component for the research and development of new antivirals and vaccines.” It said it has used the lab for hepatitis and HIV research in the past.

The Blood Center has tried unsuccessfully for a rezoning and expansion several times, Kallos said.

TAPinto Community Board Committee Votes to Oppose NY Blood Center Proposal by Marc Bussanich

Community Board Committee Votes to Oppose NY Blood Center Proposal

New YorkNY—The opposition to the New York Blood Center’s proposal to build a massive 16-story, 600,000-square foot campus on the Upper East Side is growing, as the Zoning and Development Committee of Community Board 8 voted yesterday by a margin of 16-1 to oppose the project.

First the committee heard presentations from several speakers before they voted. First up was Marty Bell, who during a Zoom meeting with Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) last week made quite clear that he is opposed to the project. He believes that the Blood Center can easily build a new building within its existing footprint compared to building a new 16-story tower whereby it will only occupy the first five floors.

Upper East Side Patch UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In by Nick Garber

UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In

After presenting the two options to neighborhood groups including the East River 50s Alliance and Sutton Area Community, Kallos said that residents' preference was clear.

"What I will say is, people love Trader Joe's," Kallos said.

Trader Joe's will be committing to the space through June 2026, with an option to renew until 2036, according to a copy of the lease which was shared with Patch.