New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Land Use

AM New York ‘Housing should be for New Yorkers’: City Council hears push to end illegal hotels by Dean Moses

‘Housing should be for New Yorkers’: City Council hears push to end illegal hotels

“I’ve been a tenant for most of my life and I’m tired of having to compete with tourists for housing in this city, housing should be for New Yorkers, hotels, should be for tourists. It’s as simple as that,” Kallos said Monday, standing alongside advocates in the shadow of City Hall. 

“Every renter had to pay an extra $384 more in increased rent due to the expansion of Airbnb from 2015 to 2017, he added. “Now this spike in rent actually forced me and my wife to move during a high risk pregnancy and I didn’t know until today where the spike came from. There were 37,000 units on Airbnb in February, and half of them listed entire homes, which is not allowed in buildings with three or more units under state law, short-term rentals are restricted to less than 30 days where the resident is home at the time.”

“This legislation, by requiring hosts to apply for and obtain a registration number in order to operate a short-term rental business in New York, is essential to preserve our affordable housing,” Vivian Abuelo of the Coalition Against Illegal Hotels said.

During the hearing, Kyle Ishmael represented Airbnb and gave a testimony on the Int. 2309, underscoring that the company supports the concept behind the bill; however, they are calling for amendments to be implemented so that it does not place undue burden onto New Yorkers trying to responsibly seek out ways to earn extra money throughout the year, such as imposing expensive or redundant requirements.

Ishmael stated that the company believes New Yorkers have the right to share their space with tourists, which has faced an economic impact during the pandemic.

Councilmember Ben Kallos at the hearing on Monday September 13.Photo by Dean Moses

“With the introduction of 2309, we are hopeful that New York City could be on the verge of clarifying the law and protecting the rights and abilities of residents to earn additional income that will allow them to remain in their homes, afford taxes, make infrastructure repairs, and meet other financial burdens. However, the bill would require some fundamental amendments to achieve this,” Ishmael testified. “As currently constructed, this bill places undue burdens on New Yorkers that would not only impede current hosts from utilizing their space for short-term rentals, but would also have a chilling effect on new, responsible residents who are seeking ways to earn extra money throughout the year. While we fully support a registration system for short term rentals in New York City, the bill would also require that hosts hire an engineer, architect or inspector to certify the premises.”

Joy Williams owns a townhouse in Harlem and shares her home through Airbnb in order to maintain it. She cautioned the council against passing legislation that would “handcuff” property owners looking to maintain affordability of their own homes.

“I own my townhouse in Harlem and share my home in order to afford to maintain it. Airbnb hosts are afraid of the City’s inconsistent, confusing and intimidating policies around home-sharing and this bill would only make it worse. Home sharing brings needed income to families and businesses in New York—that’s something that should be celebrated, not handcuffed, particularly as we try to recover from the pandemic,” Williams said in her testimony.


The hearing begins.

Crain's Insider Airbnb resists restriction and inspection of short-term rentals by Natalie Sachmechi

Airbnb resists restriction and inspection of short-term rentals

A City Council bill that would require the host of short-term rentals on websites such as Airbnb’s to register their homes with the city and get them inspected by engineers pits the short-term rental company against a hotel industry hobbled by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The legislation aims to curtail the thousands of apartments that are being illegally used as hotels, said the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Ben Kallos.

Hotels argue that the rental schemes are hurting their business by offering less expensive, more flexible alternatives to tourists. The schemes also reduce the city’s stock of affordable housing by letting apartments be used for short-term stays rather than for full-time residents, the hotels point out.

PoliticsNY Kallos, Dromm Introduce Bill to Make Taxpayer Advocate Office Permanent by By Ariel Pacheco

Kallos, Dromm Introduce Bill to Make Taxpayer Advocate Office Permanent

City Council Members Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) are introducing legislation tomorrow, July 29 at the stated City Council meeting that will make the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (OTA) permanent through City law.

The office was established in 2015 as an advocacy and service arm of the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) by Director Jacques Jiha and has assisted New Yorkers in the six years since.

Passage of this legislation would make New York the second city in the country to codify such an office, joining a number of states and a federal office. 

“It’s a no-brainer that we need this office to be permanent in our City. Too many New Yorkers are often spread thin financially due to the high cost of living in our City. The office of the Taxpayer Advocate is literally saving homeowners from getting into debt or falling behind on taxes by advocating for them successfully, “said Kallos. “New York City residents cannot afford for a future mayor to do away with this office on a whim to save money. So the best way to prevent that is to put it in the law.”

The OTA provides New Yorkers seeking tax relief a venue to seek assistance. The office employs advocates that listen to the taxpayer’s position which could lead to investigation or advisement. 

Testimony in Opposition to the Blood Center/Longfellow 334-foot Commercial Tower

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Blood Center's expansion plans have been opposed by every elected official along with thousands of residents in the community for more than a decade. Environmental impacts of this proposed development cannot be mitigated, from shadows on the park and JREC to new loopholes and the fact that the proposal would include the displacement of thousands of people from 500 apartments. With regard to the stated need for proximity, the Blood Center's exclusion from existing new joint projects in the neighborhood, other sites they won't consider, the 18 other locations in New York and New Jersey, along with a possible headquarters on Long Island, seem to undermine that need. Taking a serious look at finances we found that the New York Blood Center made $269 million selling blood that was donated, spent $75 million buying up blood centers in 5 other states, have $3 million in offshore accounts, and if that isn't enough, spent more buying real estate ($27 million) then on research ($14 million) which only accounts for less than 5% of their program services budget.

Watch Council Member Ben Kallos' Testimony

Commercial Observer Bill Would Require NYC to Be Notified of Certain Vacant Property Sales by CELIA YOUNG

Bill Would Require NYC to Be Notified of Certain Vacant Property Sales

New York City Council member is trying to give the city a heads-up on vacant building sales.

Councilman Ben Kallos plans to introduce legislation on Thursday that would require real estate brokers, realtors and listing agents to notify the city 30 days before a vacant property — including empty lots and unoccupied buildings — of 20,000 square feet or more goes up for sale, Commercial Observer has learned.

Kallos said the bill will bring the city in the loop on transactions, giving it the first right of refusal on vacant properties to allow it to build more schools, firehouses and other municipal buildings. 

“In my district, which is the Upper East Side, we have three gigantic vacant spaces,” Kallos told CO. “I’m trying to build more pre-K sites, and more schools [and] firehouses … It’s clear to me that it is a bad thing that real estate isn’t getting into the hands of the government [and] public-private partnerships aren’t happening frequently.”

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.