New York City

NY Attorney General: Most NYC Airbnb listings violate the law

October 16, 2014 By Karen Matthews Associated Press
New York state’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday charged that most Airbnb listings in New York City violate the law.
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Nearly three-quarters of the New York City listings offered by the short-term rental service Airbnb violate city or state laws, New York state’s attorney general charged Thursday.

A report released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also charged that many of the listings are placed by commercial operators running illegal hotels, not by New Yorkers renting out a spare room.

In one instance, Schneiderman said, a single commercial user made $6.8 million.

The report is based on data obtained by Schneiderman’s office as a result of a May 2014 subpoena. It examined New York City Airbnb bookings between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 2, 2014.

During that time, the report said, 25,532 of 35,354 private short-term listings — 72 percent — violated state or city laws.

It is generally legal to rent out a room while the homeowner or tenant is present, but many listings violated city zoning laws because the legal resident of the unit was away when the Airbnb client stayed there, a spokesman for Schneiderman said.

Additionally, he said, some listings violated state tax laws.

The report charged that large operators controlled a disproportionate number of listings.

According to the report, just 6 percent of hosts ran large-scale operations, but that group generated 36 percent of all rental transactions and collected 37 percent of total revenue, or $168 million.

Schneiderman announced the formation of a joint city-state enforcement unit that will investigate illegal hotels.

“We must ensure that, as online marketplaces revolutionize the way we live, laws designed to promote safety and quality-of-life are not forsaken under the pretext of innovation,” he said.

Airbnb said in a statement that it has helped “countless” families pay their bills and stay in their homes.

“We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live,” the company said. “We look forward to working with everyone in New York in the weeks ahead.”

Airbnb said it has already removed more than 2,000 of the New York listings that violated state or city laws.


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