New York Times New York City, Facing Housing Crisis, Targets Illegal Airbnb Owners by Mihir Zaveri
New legislation will require hosts of short-term rentals to register with the city — the latest move in a long battle between New York and the rental companies.
Airbnb recently announced that it had its best quarter ever, reflecting a surging thirst for travel and tourism as the pandemic’s grip loosens. But in New York City, the company is at the center of a different narrative: City leaders, after fighting for years to limit the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals, are poised to impose more stringent restrictions on the online platform.
The City Council on Thursday is expected to approve a bill that would for the first time require hosts to register with the city before renting out their homes on a short-term basis or for less than 30 days. The measure mirrors regulations in other cities like Boston and Santa Monica, Calif.
In New York City, one of Airbnb’s biggest domestic markets, city officials and housing advocates have long complained that landlords and tenants have exacerbated the housing crisis by circumventing laws and setting aside homes to rent out for a few days at a time to tourists or other visitors. Short-term rentals are often more lucrative than long-term leases.
And the hotel industry, which has been decimated by the pandemic, has long complained about Airbnb and similar online rental companies, accusing them off siphoning away business.
The new bill is designed to prevent rentals that violate those laws — including a New York State law that largely bars apartment rentals for less than 30 days when the host is not present — from even appearing online. Supporters said the new restrictions could lead to the gradual removal of thousands of listings for such illegal rentals from short-term rental websites.
“We don’t have enough housing, and anything we can do to put housing back on the market is a good thing,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and is a sponsor of the bill.