New York City would crackdown on “illegal” rentals from Airbnb and similar sites — a bid to help the ailing hotel business — under a new bill from Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).
His legislation would require users of Airbnb and other platforms to register their rentals with the city.
For rentals of less than 30 days, state law requires hosts to be on-premises at the same time as their renters.
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.
New York City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) (Danielle Hyams/New York Daily News)
The bill “would obliterate anything that wasn’t a legitimate Airbnb,” Kallos told the Daily News on Tuesday.
He also said landlords would be pressured to put “thousands and thousands” of units currently used for Airbnb rentals back on the housing market.
“We cant prime the pump for hotels if everyone is just renting Airbnbs,” Kallos said. “We need tourists using hotels and Airbnb [units] going back to being affordable housing for everyday New Yorkers.”
There were more than 37,000 short-term-rental listings in the city as of February, according to the councilman, who was citing the website insideairbnb.com. Meanwhile, the pandemic prompted some 40,000 hotel rooms to close during the course of 2020, with only some coming back online, according to a January report from the Department of City Planning.
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Airbnb, the subject of intense pushback from local lawmakers for years, stated it was “disappointing to see Councilman Kallos propose legislation to limit tourism instead of expanding it.”
“We remain ready and willing to partner with State and City officials to regulate home sharing across all five boroughs in a responsible and thoughtful way,” added the company’s Northeast policy director Alex Dagg.
Under a system to be established by Kallos’s bill, people would get a registration number for units they want to rent through Airbnb or sites like Booking.com. If they’re not the owners, they would have to get written consent from their landlords. Further, existing laws banning renting of rent-controlled units and public housing would be applied.
Penalties for breaking the rules would come at $250 per day for individual hosts. Airbnb and other platforms would also be docked penalties of up to $10,000.
Kallos pointed to similar legislation in San Francisco as an example of his approach. He planned to introduce his bill to the City Council on Wednesday.
“Its high time the city crack down on illegal hotels and this is the best way to do it,” said Mike McKee of Tenants PAC.